"May 10, 2016: Post ballet class, waiting for a stoplight to change, I pulled the straps of my sweat-soaked leotard down around my waist and lowered my window. I did this because I was hot and my skin was wet. But  I was also thinking of La Liberté guidant le peuple: a bare-breasted Marianne clamoring into battle. And I was thinking about exercising gravity, my same bare breasts giving in to and recoiling from that invisible ligature as my Toyota leapt over potholes. Accelerating down Sunset, I was Marianne: without even a glance in my rearview mirror, advancing swiftly into the unknown—because you’re fighting gravity when you do it slowly. And then I imagined what a silly, inexplicable image I’d offer up if I were to get in a car accident, and I laughed. Delacroix’s Death of Sardanapalus depicts a prostrate nude—her death imminent—begging an apathetic figure for mercy.

The first time I thought about that prostrate nude I crawled into a well on the other side of the universe and allowed my loneliness to drown me. But then there’s this: to find a single point in space completely separate from all else is to be free from gravity, violence, perfection, love."

— from Ballet, Gravity by Sway Benns published in The Paris Review, 17 January 2017