Sample Arm

I have laid it out on the table.
I have laid it out calmly, just to see.
How does it look – my paper limb –
how does it look to me?

It looks like this:
stiff, and brown,
and labelled at the elbow;
labelled at the seams;
with sharp little darts to show the crook –
sharp little darts to show the crease.

At the shoulder there’s a hook,
which is brassy and clean;
it looks a little like the butcher’s hook
that hangs up meat –
but my arm is clean:
there is no blood; there is no meat.

Along the edges there are tiny perforations,
which almost can’t be seen,
and the wrist is cut off cleanly,
where the hand should be.

It lies serenely on the table;
unattached, idealistic, free.
It lies there, looking up at me,
in all my three dimensions,
and it pities me:

it pities all that binding to the solid body;
all that tenuous attachment to the
over-animated hands.


first published in Edinburgh Review, 2015, © Tara Bergin 2015, used by permission of the author

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1Looking at Lucy's Painting of the Thames at Low Tide Without Lucy Present

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2Acting School

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3Water is Difficult

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4All Fool's Day - An Academic Farewell

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5Questions

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6You Could Show a Horse

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11White Crow

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14Red Flag

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15The Passion Flower

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16Restriction

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18The Confession

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21Photograph of Therese of Lisieux Holding Lillies

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23Portrait of the Artist's Wife as a Younger Woman

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24The Ballad of Tom Gun

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31Dying

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33The Hairdresser

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35My Friend the Tailor

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36Sample Arm

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