The International Literary Quarterly

November 2007

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. He Contemplates a Photo in a Newspaper
Gabriel Josipovici


A wood. Sunlight. Spring or early summer. In the centre, a young woman in three quarter profile, her face hidden by her abundant glossy hair, stands on a small mound and looks off to the right. Next to her, the only mass of black in the entire image, the misshapen trunk of a large tree whose branches are cut off by the top edge of the photo. A sense of peace pervades the scene.

What is the woman looking at? Her right arm hangs at her side, yet her hand is held slightly in front of her and her fist appears to be clenched, though it is difficult to see clearly as a leafy sapling half hides it.

She is wearing a sweater of some light colour (the photo is black and white) and a white skirt, smooth around the upper part of her buttocks and pleated below, which barely reaches to her knees.

The light catches the backs of her strong shapely legs and her bare feet, the left leg and foot half hidden by the right. Her heels are slightly higher than her toes, though she is not standing on tiptoe, her body seems far too relaxed for that.

Silence. Peace.

Beneath her feet, more leaves. Yet she does not appear to be standing on a bed of leaves. In fact, now he looks more closely he sees that there is a clear gap between her feet and the floor of the forest. She must, he suddenly realises, be hanging from a branch of the large tree, that is the only explanation, although the cord from which she hangs is lost in the leaves and branches, and her abundant hair, which falls to her shoulders, hides the noose around her neck.

Now he understands what it is he is seeing he can sense how her body would move, turning a little this way and that in the breeze, were there a breeze in this silent, sunlit forest.