One-Handed Prayer
Christine Boyka Kluge

Spring Cleaning

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.

Origami Gardening

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 Green Thumb."

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 quivering air.

Christine Boyka Kluge is the author of Teaching Bones to Fly (poetry) and Stirring the Mirror (prose poetry and flash fiction), both from Bitter Oleander Press, and a chapbook, Domestic Weather, which won the 2003 Uccelli Press Chapbook Contest. She's also a visual artist. You can visit her blog here here.

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Photo detail on main page courtesy of Mell 242.

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