[34] Hand-prints, James la Vigne

Today, the balcony was the furthest I came from my enclosed study, for the world was dry like overdone salmon for a week straight, so the moon came down to meet the Earth, growing until it took up most of the sky, its chalky face shifting as it approached, the way a friend’s likeness in the distance transforms into a stranger, the way everything appears alien when close enough—craters swelling, fissures splitting, and mounds rising, the Maria a dark gray tinted with brown and red. Finally it pushed gently into the shoreline like a ship carrying an old promise. Dust shivered from its surface, a mingling of worlds. The crowds gathered, not knowing why the moon was there. They posed for photos, though no camera could capture this casual enormity—it would look like any other tall gray wall behind them. The moon was close enough to touch, so everyone did. Soon the belly of the moon was covered in hand-prints, clustered together, sometimes overlapping, forming a long belt. When I got off work, I went to the beach but was too short to reach over the town’s collective hand-prints, so I kept walking. As the twilight approached, I came back with my buddy, who lifted me onto his shoulders, so I would have the highest, most kingly hand-print. I pushed both hands into the naked earth of the moon, which was tender like a bruise, for it had crouched and sang a thousand lifetimes and more. The moon was soon back up in the sky and far away, and nobody could see their hand-prints, but we knew they were there when we looked up. The moon was ours, all of ours. I prepared a new dish that evening and the spice was just right.

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