Seeing without Looking

I am an actual person. Different from the slightly distorted version you read. In person, I could be describe as shy. I keep my gaze low. Non-confrontational. Consequently, my eyes usually linger on other people’s hands. And I like hands.
When I attended art school in North Carolina we went to the occasional local gallery, I still clearly recall an exhibition of photography; there was one photo that has always stayed with me. The image was of a woman with only a thin  simple wedding band grasping her light, pretty dress up above her knees to wade through a river. It was black and white. I really loved it. It seemed so intense while also carefree and buoyant. The photo only showed her from her chest to her knees, centered on her hands. Some people get offended when bodies (women’s in particular) are truncated. I do not, because this is how I look at people. In pieces.

When I was twenty I went to the famous La Cirque for lunch. I was not feeling well, in fact I had just thrown up outside of Saks 5th Avenue. Morning sickness. I ordered a restorative tomato soup. I can not say why an acidic based soup was restorative, but in that weird -I know what I need to make this go away moment- it was. The woman at the table next to me had a bowl too. She had long fingers, aged but well maintained. She had a ring with an enormous cube of aquamarine . It gracefully flopped to one side as she guided her spoon around the bowl.

One of my professors, a man,  has very small hands, kind of pointy. He has a particular way of using them: he will hold his left hand in front of his chest open like a piece of paper that his right hand will mark upon: pushing his punctuation in, drawing a slice across, pushing an idea forward. Neither hand ever splays their fingers, they are both rectilinear.

I like the marks of a trade: ink on an artist’s hand, grease under a mechanics nails, the swelling in between the thumb and hand that comes from years of working as a seamstress, bank tellers counting money, or the different rhythms people whom work with keyboards, switches and buttons create.

What I love the most may be sign language. I love the way it looks. I love the way it sounds. I spent a week at the American School for the Deaf when I was in high school. I stayed with my grandmother. Her quiet steely elegance, the way she held her tea cup, pinky finger held high. She had an enormous wrist bone from a bad break, it was so high on her wrist, I was fascinated by it. Staying in her quiet house by night and attending the loud and energetic School for the Deaf by day.
These are some of the things that furnish my mind.

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2 responses to “Seeing without Looking

  1. How vivid your descriptions of old memories. Such keen observations.

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