by Nadya Aisenberg
The artist has a hand inside the mind.
The hands outside collect the stones, paste
the feather, smooth the linen,
cut the copper, squeeze the paint,
hold the charcoal. The hands outside
are flesh, but the hand inside is will,
wanting to make it whole. Make what whole?
Itself, you, me, a grandiose proposition,
but nevertheless, if pressed, it will admit
to this. Insight of inside. The hand paints
itself inside the mind like a cave drawing,
powerful, primitive, red, an icon bringing
beasts to it for food, dispelling dangers.
The hand inside breaks up the light
in its fist, tesserae gleaming in darkest December
like the stained glass windows of cathedrals.
The story gradually emerges, the hands outside
working, moving, the hand inside staying quite still,
knowing the end of the story, then lifting the cup of wine,
making the sign of blessing, calming the anxious outside pair.
Copyright © 2001 by Nadya Aisenberg.
This poem is from the book Measures of Salmon
Publishing Ltd. Reprinted with permission.