EILEEN TABIOS Engages
The Hand Has Twenty-Seven Bones—: These Hands If Not Gods by Natalie Diaz
(Belladonna Chaplet #190, Brooklyn, 2016)
It’s amazing—and impressive—the ravishment effected by this chap-length poem: Natalia Diaz’s The Hand Has Twenty-Seven Bones—: These Hands If Not Gods. Its premise is straightforward: the many significances and/or types and/or natures of hands, ranging over the logistical convenience of a palm’s ability to form a cup from which to cradle then drink river water to the evocative doubling of a sculptor’s hands sculpting a hand. But in the writing hands of Diaz, eros wells up as if compelled by no less than a goddess raising hand in command. For instance:
(click on images to enlarge)
And as for the example I describe above about drinking river water, Diaz wrote it this way:
Synchronistically, I read this wonderful interview of visual artist Harmony Hammond (with Phillip Griffith for The Brooklyn Rail) at about the time I was writing this review, and found this excerpt that applies to how I respond to The Hand Has Twenty-Seven Bones—: These Hands If Not Gods:
The painting not only references the body but is a body; at the same time it refers to the painter or the one who paints. The paint, and therefore the act of painting, literally holds not only the painting object but the painter together—the most essential and personal of the functions of art making.There's a bodily presence so strong in Diaz's poem that one could replace "painting" with "writing" and I'd feel there to be applicability. Here’s another evocative excerpt, moving from desire to loss, where the latter may result in a space for prayer and/or commemoration as one remembers what once was desired:
I am enchanted, ravished over and over, indeed “golded” by the effect of Diaz’s hands by the time I turn to the chap’s last pages, which begin
I soar even higher. Let me share the ending as it’s not the type of conclusion that spoil[er]s you away from checking out for yourself this project:
There, doesn’t all that make you want to experience for yourself—to be touched—by the poem? To be “golded” as she put it earlier in the poem—
Yes, trace the heat of that number against your throat—thank you, Natalie Diaz—against your flesh. In the poem, you note that "Physics says we can never truly touch anything—the electrons in our hands repel the electrons in the object we think we are touching." But what else is poetry for but disruption? For, what you call "Touch" as "the brain's interpretation of the repulsion taking place between our body's electrons and the object's electromagnetic field" is what I call (interpret from these pages) as "sublime."
Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects because she's its editor (the exception would be books that focus on other poets as well). She is pleased, though, to point you elsewhere to recent reviews of her work: THE CONNOISSEUR OF ALLEYS was reviewed by Marthe Reed for The Volta Blog and Grady Harp for Amazon; INVENT(ST)ORY was reviewed by Neil Leadbeater in The Halo-Halo Review Mangozine #2; Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole was reviewed by Monica Manolachi in The Halo-Halo Review Mangozine #2; Footnotes to Algebra was reviewed by Chris Mansel in The Halo-Halo Review Mangozine #2; and SILK EGG was reviewed by Aileen Ibardaloza in Goodreads.