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In the Palm of Your Held Hand

                                    Nathaniel Perry

Have you ever tried to guess the weight of one
hand? The measure of a bird fully flown
away and its subtracted ounces would be
more accurate, would come more easily
than working out the outcome of the weight
of one hand held in another. It’s a little like fate,
or the way fate feels when you’re beneath it, fixed
to a lever you can’t control, the lever affixed
to the mind which is sure it can control it, so tries
and tries, lifting everything up without knowing why,
and dropping it all without knowing why. Like that
the weight of life is also measured—like a cat
releasing a bird for no good reason, you bending
to hold it anyway, in the cold, in a wind
that’s come up fast through the branches of the ash
across the yard, the bird not hurt, in a flash
flown away and you so thrilled and saddened by
the sudden release that you cry a little, and I
reach down to help you stand, us standing there—
and it’s light, that weight, its feel a bit like air,
or how I imagine air would feel if one
could hold it without coming completely undone,
the air at least in our grasp, heavy with demands,
like the weight of a bird, in the palm of your held hand.

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