The Touch

For months my hand had been sealed off in a tin box. Nothing was there but subway railings.

Perhaps it is bruised, I thought, and that is why they have locked it up.

But when I looked in it lay there quietly.

You could tell time by this, I thought, like a clock, by its five knuckles and the thin underground veins.

It lay there like an unconscious woman fed by tubes she knew not of.

The hand had collapsed, a small wood pigeon that had gone into seclusion. I turned it over and the palm was old, its lines traced like fine needlepoint and stitched up into the fingers. It was fat and soft and blind in places. Nothing but vulnerable.

And all this is metaphor.

An ordinary hand — just lonely for something to touch that touches back.

The dog won't do it.

Her tail wags in the swamp for a frog.

I'm no better than a case of dog food.

She owns her own hunger.

My sisters won't do it.

They live in school except for buttons and tears running down like lemonade.

My father won't do it.

He comes with the house and even at night he lives in a machine made by my mother and well oiled by his job, his job.

The trouble is that I'd let my gestures freeze. The trouble was not in the kitchen or the tulips but only in my head, my head.

Then all this became history.

Your hand found mine.

Life rushed to my fingers like a blood clot.

Oh, my carpenter, the fingers are rebuilt.

They dance with yours.

They dance in the attic and in Vienna.

My hand is alive all over America.

Not even death will stop it, death shedding her blood.

Nothing will stop it, for this is the kingdom and the kingdom come.

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