blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Dried Preparation of the Hand

          photograph by Dale Gunnoe, Untitled, Mütter Museum

It's not so much the missing skin
or the blood-slick bones of the hand,

which could be hailing a taxi or waving
goodbye, but the shadow of two hands

where there is one.

The pair, rising in the flat black fuzz
of shade, barely touching,

like first kissing, could still be
flesh-bound, round with life, unlike

the hand in full light, still strung

with veins and ascending with the shadows
in spindly agreement.

My father once tried to catch a falling
glass, but it exploded in his hand,

opened it like a pomegranate,

and I watched his hardness turn to pulp.
Later, I, too, would shatter glass, learn

again the thinness of the membrane
between minutes, one minute holding you

on a porch rocker in a thirsty summer,

the next inside an ambulance behind
two rectangles of sky. My father would

make the trip home that night,
stroke my head with his numb hand,

and for the first time I remember, I'd reach

my small fingers into his, hovering
between dreaming and waking,

the way the hand hovers with the shadows,
no longer alive but not yet dead.  

return to top