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Message to Readers

so this experience is true, mostly. we're making these little clay hands in art using exact prints of our own fingers and the projects kind of creep me out. the dates and times of the poem aren't right, and i didn't throw mine away. that was mostly for effect.
feedback appreciated

art class

February 12, 2019


monday, 2:17 p.m.
and ms. holt is unfurling plastic cups from a crinkling arm
the white powder glints purple in the fluorescents
and dust peppers the air like smoke
as water pools beneath the lilac.
next we mash our palms into the crumbling cranberry surface
the water is soft, fingers clench clay
and maybe it's made of a thousand robots
that read the lines in my knuckles
that sculpt the bites in my fingernails in hard, pristine drifts.
the concrete shifts, unstirred gobs condense
the cup tightens around my hand, but i hold still
the newly formed gel is still scanning my fingers
like a hunched librarian in a congealing bookstore.
my thumbs grow cold with perspiration
and that, perhaps, is when it's done:
a hand is lifted, the fingers trailing intricate tunnels
dug into the concrete skin.
the cups are stained, carried to a counter
and milky glue is poured into the cracks of the clay
into the purplish spaces where my knuckles once were
it fills the tunnels.  it becomes my fingers.

tuesday, 2:13 p.m.
and the cup is lifted at long last
the concrete is fully purple now, dark as jello
and it feels like fat as it shifts under my hands
but the knife is taken, the blade is strong
piece by piece, the lavender is dismantled
spewed onto the floor like cut hair.
the excitement arises as the fingertips appear
and i grow wary of cutting the fake fingers off at the joints
––the artistic industries are morbid these days––
but slowly, the little replication unwinds
and it's a hand, it's exactly my hand
false skin flashes into the classroom's face
if i fold my fingers, they are the same.

wednesday, 2:15 p.m.
ms. holt tells us to paint our hands
but they have grown creepy by now, the clay fingers
the white stone hard, unyielding, but exactly mine
and acrylic paint will not
give it life.
i paint the fingernails in rainbow patterns
but i keep looking at the little indents
the white hand reflects the scars
where i have bitten into my skin.
i wash my paints and look away.

thursday, 3:01 p.m.
at the end of class, we're given permission
to take all art home
my charcoal drawings, my paper-mâché
are stowed lovingly into a cardboard box.
i put the concrete hand into my pocket:
what else to do with it?
during the walk home
i can feel the false fingers
brushing at my sides.

friday, 7:29 p.m.
the hand is forced into the trash can.
i cannot look at it anymore.


See History

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  • spearmint

    This is just beautifully vivid and descriptive. I love how you made something so simple into a piece of art. Just wow.

    almost 2 years ago
  • acrosstheskysky

    this is such a beautiful piece?! i love you conveyed your shifting feelings for a piece of artwork over time _and_ in such a poetic way. the way you describe things like "plastic cups from a crinkling arm" is so admirable wow

    almost 2 years ago
  • Johanna

    This is spectacular- you've yet again made something so normal into something so deep. The metaphors and imagery are beautiful- keep on doing it!

    almost 2 years ago
  • Pi_Pen

    Wow. Incredibly, beautiful, and truly splendid description. You capture all of the reader's senses and thrust them into the scene in such a perfect manner. Wonderful!

    almost 2 years ago
  • JCWriter

    The description in this is stunningly vivid. Good job!

    almost 2 years ago