Christine Boyka Kluge
When he lifted the shag rug, he found a hand, palm down, flat as a rose
pressed in a bible. The mummified skin resembled dried petals.
Fingernails protruded like varnished cat tongues. The nearsighted man
peeled the hand from the floor and shook off the dust. He blew into the
wrist, inflating it like a glove. After tying it off with a black hair
plucked from his Fu Manchu mustache, he opened the door and tossed the
hand into the wind. It lifted over the last winter-bleached oak leaves,
then fluttered over the forsythia border at the bottom of the yard.
Sighing, he tracked its looping flight, until it was only the good-bye
wave of a wing.
What he couldn't see was the amazed face of his downhill neighbor, a
blue-ribbon gardener, who watched the hissing balloon plummet toward
her. At the last moment, she held up her fingers, and the hand landed
in hers like a robin in a nest. As the hand deflated, the breath of the
man perfumed the air with bologna and spearmint.
The hand morphed into an amoeboid sheet of tissue, veined with sepia
and green. The woman caressed it with a curious fingertip, admiring its
texture and muted tones. Inspired, she creased the skin, making one
complicated fold after another. The resulting sculpture looked like a
flower bulb with an emerald shoot. She dubbed her creation "Love's
On impulse, she placed the hand in one of the holes she was digging for
day lilies. It was much too early, but the snow-less winter had left
her optimistic. She sprinkled soil into the hole with the feeling that
something mysterious and wonderful would take root. Then she tapped the
dirt into place with a bare foot. Blue electricity coursed from the
clouds into her head, along her spine, and into the warming ground.
For a moment, she lost her balance. Wobbling, she suddenly remembered
that she had always found men with glasses extremely attractive,
especially dark-haired men with a wealth of facial hair. Wasn't it a
perfect morning for a stroll in the direction of those promising
forsythias? She blinked, trying to clear her vision. The buds
glowed like the tips of yellow crayons, writing something on the
Christine Boyka Kluge is the author of Teaching Bones to Fly
(poetry) and Stirring the Mirror (prose poetry and
fiction), both from Bitter Oleander Press, and a
Domestic Weather, which won the 2003 Uccelli Press
Contest. She's also a visual artist. You can visit
her blog here here.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/200810prayer.htm
Photo detail on main page courtesy
of Mell 242.
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