“Hand Shadows” by Mary Cornish
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
My father put his hands in the white light of the lantern, and his palms became a horse that flicked its ears and bucked; an alligator feigning sleep along the canvas wall leapt up and snapped its jaws in silhouette, or else a swan would turn its perfect neck and drop a fingered beak toward that shadowed head to lightly preen my father's feathered hair. Outside our tent, skunks shuffled in the woods beneath a star that died a little every day, and from a nebula of light diffused inside Orion's sword, new stars were born. My father's hands became two birds, linked by a thumb, they flew one following the other.
from Red Studio, 2007
Oberlin College Press
Copyright 2007 by Oberlin College Press.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Oberlin College Press. Copyright 2007 by Mary Cornish. For further permissions information contact Linda Slocum, Managing Editor, Oberlin College Press, firstname.lastname@example.org, 50 N. Professor St. Oberlin, OH 44074, fax 440-775-8124, phone 440-775-8408. http://www.oberlin.edu/ocpress
About the Poet
Mary Cornish (1948- ), a former children’s book illustrator, is the author of the poetry collection Red Studio (Oberlin College Press, 2007). Cornish is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow and lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she teaches creative writing at Western Washington University.
Learn more about Mary Cornish at The Poetry Foundation.