Here is the human touch
without which no thing could be
said to exist.
In the old caves--Chauvet, or say
Cueva de las Manos--hands follow
contours of rock to describe themselves
in stencil and print, with chalk
and charcoal, with polychromatic
ochres, and always with some touch of pink.
The ancients used slick swells of stone
walls and ceilings to give the impression
of moving upward in the flickering light,
often found in recesses absent
of any forms of human life
as if yearning had no body.
The images of open hands, hands held high,
a universal sign we might otherwise find
in the elementary school, or say
out on an open highway,
a conscious act of attention,
a reaching out, trying to touch
something, as if their owners wished
to offer some impression of themselves,
their yearning, or to invite others,
future hands, to join them,
a community, as if they did not wish
to enter the unknown alone.
Michael Gessner has authored 11 books of poetry and prose. His work may be found in American Literary Review, The French Literary Review, The Kenyon Review, North American Review, Oxford Magazine, rue des Beaux-Arts (Paris,) Verse Daily, The Yale Review of Humanities in Medicine, and others. For additional information, please see https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/michael-gessner or https://www.michaelgessner.com/
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