The Cardboard Hand

Timothy Richardson


The small bits—crumpled paper and clips
for hair and incense cones and a hand
traced on cardboard, cut out and painted
to look exactly like any cartoon should
under the light.  And the bulb belongs, too.

In fact, all the odd things outside of us;
whatever marks the line between whatever
counts as thing beside our bodies, or
besides our bodies, which is different,
since it applies to us the status of things.

The line here works like…say you’re
standing at a border between countries
(make them enemies if you want) but
in the interest of science they let you
straddle the boundary.  Where are you?

And who owns the line?  What’s the effect
of all the importance between your legs
and does this count toward the vertigo
you have to feel as the infinite thinness
slips down into the infinity it suggests?

Or go to the planetarium.  Pretend
we’re alone there with the pierced stamen
through which the stars slip and strike
the curved walls to make stars.  The reversal
caused by our knowing the mechanics,

or put another way, this facsimile of stars
with us in between the true origin and
the illusion of space should make us
feel the same way, a model for that
vastness projected into two dimensions

so the third can be felt.  So the points
of light we’ll call stars, why quibble, are
an awful lot like the places we can never be
between in any real way.  Or the way
we sometimes say that light surrounds us

proves our own space inside our bodies.
Or it’s like a cardboard hand painted
to look like a representation of a true one,
yours or mine, which has nothing to do
with bodies but everything to do with us.

Return to Fall 2018 Volume 10.1