Laura Kasischke

The Beautiful Hand
January 15, 2012 Kasischke Laura

The Beautiful Hand




Not a word.

Not a word.

And not a song


played on a radio

in a garbage truck.

Not a little, braided


friendship bracelet

clipped by a nurse

from a child’s arm.


The doctor drops

the sponge.

The helicopter.

The mother

waves to the sky.



Something in the grass.

Something in the trash.

Something on the floor.

The tail is tangled.

The shadow is the sun.

I love.  I love.  I love.


And butterflies for eyes

Sugary coffee in his cup.

Please, another sponge.






I thought we were playing

in a forest.  I ran

as she chased me.

But it wasn’t game.

She’d been stung by a bee

or bitten by a snake.  She


was calling my name,


which, even as I child, I

knew was not, “Please.

Stop.  I’m dying.”  And


she knew I knew.  She



But, look at me

running anyway, my

limbs like flames.


Look at me running, my

mother behind me.

Calling my name.






Even the hand-holding

in the hallway

already done.  Boy

she loved, had

just begun to love.


How to tell her that this world:

We never earned it.  Therefore

the suffering, we won’t

deserve it.


Long night:

Lost housepet

howling at the center

of a meteor shower.


Bright morning:

A mirror

full of her.






Never underestimate the devotion

of a God who gives birth

in darkness

to his own likeness

by thought alone.  You


were loved wildly before

you even had time

to open your eyes.


But now you can never catch up.


And that’s the rub.


The gifts pile up, and

the thank you notes

you never wrote, wrote

and never sent.


To the parents who adored you.

To the friend you cheated.

To the lover, whose friend.

To the magician, who stood

on the stage

in a puddle

of his dearest

assistant’s blood.  While


a rooster crows about you

on an upturned pail all day.

While a jellyfish of cloudy


flesh moves through the water

whispering your name.


Laura Kasischke is the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, 2012. She has published eight novels, two of which have been made into feature films—The Life Before Her Eyes, and Suspicious River—and eight books of poetry. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as several Pushcart Prizes and numerous poetry awards. Her writing has appeared in Best American Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Harper’s, and The New Republic. She lives with her family in Chelsea, Michigan and is an Allan Seager Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan.