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ISSUE:  Summer 1978

Only after handprints appeared on the walls did I realize I
walk in my sleep.

No doubt these were my own form of bread crumbs
through the forest, and so I memorized their positions in the
halls, side rooms—wherever they raised their palms. Then
each day before breakfast I’d search out the new prints,
hoping to rediscover the paths I’d felt my way to the night

But if there were any patterns, they were lost in some
dream I couldn’t remember.

Awake, alone, and lost, I decided to invest in the hope of
common cleansers: I scrubbed down the handprints. Or
rather, tried, for no matter how hard I rubbed, they only
became clearer, and my colorless wallpaper came more and
more to resemble precinct files.

I devoted less time to sleep and more to cleaning, I ex-
hausted myself and my supply of Brillo. The handprints con-
tinued to multiply: in number, into themselves. They became
concave, a kind of cringe into the wall. They crept inward
until—slowly—they developed wrists, forearms. Soon there
were over a hundred holes, each reaching in with five fingers
to the center of the house.

I began to sleep again, long hours of dreams that it seems
only the arms in my walls, still growing, could retain, And in
the few hours I dared wake and walk about, I had no choice
but to keep, with great difficulty, my hands in my pockets.

And today, all at once, the holes, from shoulder sockets on,
began waving inside: some with wistful delicacy, others with
a kind of subdued anger, They continue even now. I’ve
examined them all, each one as individual in motion as they
are identical in shape. And I wait, because I can’t see in
beyond their fingertips, and I have no way of telling to whom,
or what, they wave, or whether it’s a greeting, or a farewell.


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