The Miracle of the Hands

The children receive an unexpected box in the mail. It’s marzipan, molded in the shape of an eighty-two-year-old hand. Their parents are astonished; they open another bottle of Bordeaux, mix up a batch of waffles. To be fair, says the father, each child will get a finger, and the thumb will be gifted to the moony beggar at the end of the street, where the canal meets the river, the one pleading with the Meuse to return her reflection. The hand, however, makes a fist, and once pried open grips the eldest boy’s finger fiercely, as if a stroke has caused its memory to fail. The room begins to smell of almonds and grapes. The box has no return address. The youngest girl, despite her best attempt, breaks into tears. Isn’t that the way of all things inexplicable? Isn’t that the knowledge we’re given at birth?





Phillip Sterling’s books include two collections of short fiction, In Which Brief Stories Are Told (Wayne State University Press 2011) and Amateur Husbandry (Mayapple 2019); two full-length collections of poetry, And Then Snow and Mutual Shores; and five chapbook-length series of poems, the most recent of which, Short on Days, was released from Main Street Rag in June 2020.

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