Automatism//Chloe N. Clark

There was a woman


kept hands


lined up in jars


along her walls



Hands of children,






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





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



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.