Automatism//Chloe N. Clark


There was a woman

 

kept hands

 

lined up in jars

 

along her walls

 

 

Hands of children,

 

                                men,

 

                                      crones—

 

from soft to ridged

 

with wrinkles, having spent

 

so much time holding the hands

 

of others

 

 

These hands, she showed

 

to visitors—prized as needle-

 

point portraits or tea cups

 

imported from some place

 

exotic—and they would gasp

 

and ooh ahh, such

 

perfections

 

 

Once or twice a visit, someone

 

would recognize the fingers

 

of a former lover, the heart-

 

line of a childhood best

 

friend, the bird-fine wrist

 

                of a piano teacher,

 

                                once desired,

 

the way she pressed keys, hovered

 

hands over—

 

 

The woman will ask

 

if the visitors wish

 

to borrow, or buy,

 

                but no, no

 

                                heads are shook

 

                hands pushed deep

 

                into pockets, don’t

 

                be tempted.

 

 

Still, the collection grows

 

       hands floating,

 

       fingers stretching,

 

as if to reach

 

out and grasp

 

       another’s.

Chloe N. Clark is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing & Environment. Her work has appeared such places as Bombay Gin, Booth, Crannog, and more. For her rants on dessert, stage magic, and monsters, follow her on Twitter @PintsNCupcakes.