BY TODD DILLARD
The body is a treasure map
which is why my nails carve
exes across mine. Dig here,
remove this, search for
the beauty buried underneath.
My father tells me as a child
I ripped bodies out of magazines,
decorated the bottom
of my brother’s top bunk
with legs, arms, torsos,
lips, hair, breasts, so every night
a dismembered crowd
clamored above me, pierced me
with their lush everything-I’m-not.
I don’t remember this, but
I believe. The search for the body
precedes memory. You look until
you become looking,
and when you are looking
the hands that cut you most
are your own, even the one-
night lovers’ you grab
and press against you–
that begging caress, that
plea to be found beneath
all this excess self.
“WHY WOULD YOU WANT A DRIED HAND?”
-QUOTE FROM MÜTTER MUSEUM DISPLAY
For shaking others’ hands when I sneeze
and can’t find the sanitizer. To place
on my knee when I want to feel wanted.
To hide in the candy bowl on Halloween.
A hat, maybe, in the style of my father
resting his hand on my head when I was a child.
So on lonely nights I can lace my fingers
through its leathery ones and still have
a hand free for my drink/the television remote.
So I can, not long after obtaining one,
lust after the latest version. I want
another thing that will roll under the table,
the couch, hibernate in the pockets of a fall-weather coat.
I want one so when I measure what I have to lose
the answer will be a hand or more. It will be
the genesis of a new nickname: “The Guy with the Hand.”
I will pass it among house guests and friends.
They will marvel at its taut, jaundice
knuckles, the hunchback-curled hairs,
the way the ligaments pull like sail ropes
when you waggle its fingers. An envious twinkle
will ignite in their eyes. They will say:
why wouldn’t you want a dried hand?
Todd Dillard’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous publications, including McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, Electric Literature, Best New Poets, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and Split Lip Magazine. He is a recipient of a grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and his chapbook “The Drowned Hymns” is available from Jeanne Duval Editions. Todd lives in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter.
Art by art editor Michelle Johnsen
Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine, EcoWatch.com, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by AP, weather.com, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at] gmail.com.