Open Studio


– 12″ x 16″ x 1″ – acrylic/mixed media on wood

This is one of five paintings I will be showing in November at The IO Gallery. I’ve just finished this one, and I have another painting that’s almost done; it just needs another day’s work. It’s been slow going in my studio. I went through a stretch of botched paintings and real frustration, but the cooperative muse has returned. I think she was pleased with my gift of new brushes…

A Hand

A hand is not four fingers and a thumb.

Nor is it palm and knuckles,
not ligaments or the fat’s yellow pillow,
not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins.

A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines
with their infinite dramas,
nor what it has written,
not on the page,
not on the ecstatic body.

Nor is the hand its meadows of holding, of shaping—
not sponge of rising yeast-bread,
not rotor pin’s smoothness,
not ink.

The maple’s green hands do not cup
the proliferant rain.
What empties itself falls into the place that is open.

A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question.

Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs.

Jane Hirshfield (1953 – )

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