Skip to main content

The Invisible Hand

ISSUE:  Winter 2003

No, I just can’t write today, I said
to myself, sprawling on the couch, my mind
an open invitation to sleep, when there it was:
The Invisible Hand. A title. Having arrived
unbidden, it felt like inspiration,

but like a movie as well, which troubled me.
Hadn’t I written that poem already? I recognized
the brilliant scientist, whose inattention
to the world causes the accident that kills
his pretty fiancée, pushing him over the edge

and fixing all his genius on a single idea:
the reanimation of matter. Until finally
she is yanked out of the dark nether-regions
where the dead live. And from which, he discovers,
they have no desire to return. Yes,

but how does the invisible hand come in?
It had to be literal. No hand of fate,
no impalpable guiding force, but actual flesh,
chopped off, then bandaged, and sometimes
(but not always) transparent. Once it might

have been attached to a famous musician,
so this hand knew beauty, but had learned
how to kill, and thus was torn
between those great forces that make war
in a man’s soul. This wasn’t a poem I had written,

but could a murderous, disembodied hand
really be the best approach? Then I was struck.
Had it been The Invisible Man? It was time
for lunch, and as I ate I thought. Soon
I’d take my dog, Molly, for a walk,

after which we’d drive to the Stop & Shop,
and so on through the rest of the afternoon
until the whole idea of an invisible hand
might begin to seem—as in fact
it already had—just a little silly.

And walking outside with Molly, the fields
around us lavishly green, the lilacs almost
unbearably rich, puffy white clouds
scooting through the sky, even the idea
of writing a poem felt like a project

better left to another day, a morning
with fewer distractions, quieter, when the wind
would not be bending the small trees so fiercely,
making them creak and shudder, as if touched,
and touched again, by everything I could not see.


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading