Monday, April 03, 2017


"The Hand Has Twenty-Seven Bones" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk wash, sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, and charcoal pencil on 12" x 12" concrete board.


"1. I make my faith in my hands. A writer can declare faith in nothing but must bear faith in her hands. Hands are the inventors of language. We make words for what we must do. Our words are made of hands."


"19. There are twenty-seven bones in the hand and twenty-seven protons in the nucleus of an atom of cobalt. Cobalt blue. Our hands are the masters of our blues. How many times have I given up my head for them to hold? "

—from "The Hand Has Twenty-Seven Bones" by Natalie Diaz, as found in the "Faith" issue of Tin House (17:3)


Sometimes, contemporary "list" prose poems appear to be nonsense that has been strung together. Not so in the case of this poem. Here, the twenty-seven "aphorisms," one for each bone of the hand, are all related to hands in either a universal "definition" or in a personal "reflection." (Or sometimes simultaneously both.)


The beauty comes in the punch-line of the poem, revealed through a slow build: a play on the notion of being created in the image of God.


This poem is truly a joy to read as it makes its case. It skirts what many may consider both profane and sacred throughout its lines, but really falls on the side of the latter.


It is a prayer of thanksgiving.

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