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Distance is God’s way of addressing the will.
– G. C. Waldrep

Of the fingers I can say only that they are holding
a cigarette outside her car window—upright—as perhaps a vector
measures its angle of incidence along its own directed line. A segment
you say, so subtle a difference between line and ray.
What drops off is imperceptible but eddies
nevertheless, discards the infinitesimal self in flecks
of ash and wisps like nail filings, the velocity
as harsh as emery boards,
strengthen the flame and shape its nail bed.
You say, “She counts the strokes, one-to-ten, and all in the same direction.”
I say, “That’s magnitude, but you disagree.”
I say the flesh, the face, the finger, is a sign, a gesture and phenomenology.
And we watch, as the cigarette extends her fingers like high-heeled
shoes. Then her arm. Radius first then ulna, then humerus, her scapula and
recede into the car’s chiaroscuro.
Then vanishes before reaching the face.
As if there was no face. As if it were the hint of face, only. As if the finger
the face. As if I know what you mean. And think of Michelangelo.
Fons vivus, ignis, caritas—Sistine Chapel, center panel,
the finger of God on the one hand, the firmament
and the first man, face enrapt. “This despite
the gap,” I add. Note the hand, his hand—not the hands,
or face—holds the essence of man. So the preliminary sketches
all show Adam, with a Marlboro
and ol’ Mickey, lighting it up from the flame of his paint brush,
painting intention as an elongation
from a fixed point and not from his face. The face being just an expression
like it’s a long shot, like an arrow
which sits below the sight line before ever becoming its intent,
already as a kind of detachment.
And even if aimless is aimed, as an un-aimed aiming still requires a hand, a
and trajectory, is intended, but then so emptily.
Take note of the hand. Its arc. Its descent.
And the cigarette, its paper its breadth, its length.
This is the trajectory of its desire. This is his empty hand, perfectly limp,
lacking nothing except perhaps the implied bull’s eye
or, perhaps, presumption’s a few lost or un-shot inches.
“Or perhaps,” you say, “Accende lumen sensibus.” And pray,
the hand, her hand, its tar its tow, outside the window flexes, Lord, like a shot
arrow, reaches,
Lord, and reaches.

First published in issue 43.2, Spring 2014, of Phoebe Journal.