Fall 2009

Table of Contents - Vol. V, No. 3


Poetry    Reviews    Fiction   

Amanda K. Norris


The Hand of God
(after Rodin's The Hand of God)

Pools. Rocks. Chunks of time.
Switches on the trees and animals
walking around, stripped to their walking,
naked, shivering, lissome in their pelts.
They began as the apparition of a gesture,
a shrinking itself as wide as the void,
until I had made my whole self a hand
to apprehend my own loneliness
as easily as one picks up a stone
from an otherwise unpopulated shore
and carries it back, a portable barrenness.
And I began to love myself
until the clay pulsed
like a navel into which has burrowed
a small, lively insect.
Theirs was a crawling birth.
And when I saw them
I thought the world had flickered
and spun itself into their singular embrace.
And when I saw that their liberal forms
had grazed on the light,
I grew jealous and struck them,
and from under my palm
there moved a shadow---the first!---
I now call regret.



There's two lives:
one you live through, one you don't.
As you frisk your clothes of lint,
scour pans of last night's grease,
dust the banisters with an oiled cloth,
vacuum crumbs from under the loveseat,
and beat the rugs till your arms ache
like a new mother's, you sense
you are putting things to right.
How will your life look without you in it?
Glimpse it: the clotted scum that rings the tub
is gone, the tiny, cauliflower impressions of lipstick
are wiped clean from the cups, and the dishes,
brightly rimmed, shine like new snow in the cabinet.
The house is innocent as a baby's skull,
and yet it is a brittle equilibrium.
You don't want to disturb it
with your body's tireless sheddings,
its particulate tattle-telling, its ways
of weaving its tarnishing signatures
through and on whatever you touch, hold, handle, use
or simply slump in or on. And you wonder
which life you have chastened
with your scrubbing, sweeping, and polishing,
which life you have ground down into a fine, blue essence
like the powder they use to make
stained glass windows.
You examine your hands
and see that the transference of grit and grime
is already framing you as the fraudulent
practitioner of the art of erasure.
You rest your fingertips on the white molding,
and a mark is made.
In the waning light it looks like the noseprint
of a small, stubborn ghost.
You decide to go on living.


© Amanda K. Norris



Poetry    Reviews    Fiction   

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