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Standing there, entirely stripped of skin from head to knees – lifted, slashed, – flayed naked, gaping and bloodied, yet not apparently quite finished off, not even really perturbed, preserving a look of serenity.
Too awful to contemplate – brushed by a tuft of bird down, it would fall into a fit, – its scarlet lips cut to the quick, hapless, perfectly even and orbicular, like the grainy rim of a stoneware vase, form a wise, firm mouth that offers no complaint.
The ghastly wretchedness of its savaged apparel, inside-out with its blood-soaked red straps; the pierced, punctured glottis, and the frantically extended muscles that raise the eyelids yanked aside do not affect the calm, measured, sociable look of one who preserves his faith in humanity, in justice, in equity.
After the efforts of the expert torturer, there’s no despair; no anger, nor resentment.
Behind the hairless, shaven, gaping skull, now left undefended, at the mercy of a pebble, a leaf, a cigarette-end, a bit of plaster that might fall into it, this peaceable, trusting man reflects, confident despite everything in Society and, all things considered, no more mistreated than any other, and still “your servant”!
Henri Michaux, Pictures, I
Translated from French by D. Radzinowicz