Everyone knew the water would rise, but nobody knew how much. The priest at Santa Croce said, God will not flood the church. When the Arno broke its banks, God entered as a river, let His mark high above the altar. He left nothing untouched: stones, plaster, wood. You are all my children. The hem of His garment, which was the river’s bottom sludge, swept through Florence, filling cars and cradles, the eyes of marble statues, even the Doors of Paradise. And the likeness of His son’s hands, those pierced palms soaked with water, began to peel like skin. The Holy Ghost appeared as clouds of salted crystals on the faces of saints, until the intonaco of their painted bodies stood out from the wall as if they had been resurrected. This is what I know of restoration: in a small room near San Marco, alone on a wooden stool nearly every day for a year, I painted squares of blue on gessoed boards— cobalt blue with madder rose, viridian, lamp black—pure pigments and the strained yolk of an egg, then penciled notes about the powders, the percentages of each. I never asked to what end I was doing what I did, and now I’ll never know. Perhaps there was one square that matched the mantle of a penitent, the stiff hair of a donkey’s tail, a river calm beneath a bridge. I don’t even know what I learned, except the possibilities of blue, and how God enters.