Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Hand


 (I suppose I should dedicate this to the Addams Family's Thing and Franz Kafka.)

I do not expect the hand. At first, I think it is a root or some other growing thing searching out food.  I brush against it. It is cool though warmer than the air, warmer than the soil. I rest my head against its soft palm.

It cradles my head for hours, then it strokes my face. Perhaps it has a cramp and must move. I breathe, sleep, wake. The hand is gone. I sleep again.

When it returns, I touch my fingers to its fingers and they respond, curling. We remain fingertip to fingertip. I do not know how long. My watch is gone. Nothing changes. 

I sleep and when I wake, the hand has disappeared, my fingers are empty. I feel for the hole in the earth where the hand has returned. There are several small crevices and I reach in. Nothing but dirt or vacancy. Somewhere in this country, they think of shoes, stationary, a plate of meat, the floor of a change room. 

Then I feel the hand against my side. I hold it. We are parent and child, sisters, lovers walking together, watching the moon, anticipating the boat which will take us across the river. We whisper our stories. We are silent.

The hand is the moon, clouds. A sigh. I begin to wait for it. To expect. It is a television. A friend. What does it hope for, reaching, holding, sharing its quiet? 

Fields of daisies, butterflies, explosives. There is no remembering. A cubicle. The Canadian Shield, its stunted trees and shine of mica. Burritos, librarians, snakes, and nightstands. Documents passed from hand to hand in secret.

The hand carries nothing. Heat. A body. Happiness. I feel little except when I hold the hand. It could not have been looking for me, could not have anticipated finding me. A human hand among thousands: its own shadow, cold, sightless, underground; its mother,  master, child, slave. Its twin. 

I outline letters on its palm, but it does not understand. Its fingers move. Maybe it writes, but were it Arabic or English, I feel only caresses and swirls. An intimate and inscrutable grammar. 

We lock our fingers together. We sleep. Wake. Are happy. 

After a few days, the hand does not appear, I think I have lost my own hand. Later, I realize, the hand is gone. Hand. Gust of wind. The wide earth. Death. Someone brings me food. 
I open and close my own hand. I open and close it. I pass the memory of the hand between each of my own hands. What can be held in a hand, what has flown away? I remember nothing.

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