Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our Lady of the Third Arm

Our Lady of the Third Arm

Our Lady of the Third Arm,
of the extra appendage, she
uses the surplus limb solely

for holy activities, needlework,
piano, kneading of dough
that becomes wholesome bread.

Without that middle hand,
she’d be a hell of a lot less
holy, ordinary as a book

falling open to the part
where the heroine has just
grown up, where she is

meeting the lover who
will hurt her thirty pages
later. When she was young,

Their Girl of the Third Arm,
they cooed Saint into her crib,
encouraged her to draw

centerhandedly, painted her nails
with rosy pink, fifteen shells
shining at the ends of her hands,

fifteen fingers spread to be
exclaimed over, knuckles like
eyes halfway up each digit.

Our special little lady,
where would she be without
that third arm, God forbid.


  1. Eerie and wonderful. Edward Albee has a play about this...

  2. eerie, just as kathleen said. but simple and not that very pleasant to have a third arm

  3. I am still thinking...I love this in a inexplicable seems like the third hand is separate from the rest of her...I felt sad that thirty pages later she would be hurt...isn't that just how our life someone reading our are incredible Hannah! xx

  4. I need a third arm, and how!

    What a haunting image this is.

  5. I read an article the other day about Mexican drug traffickers use of and prayer to made-up saints. I couldn't help but think of that while reading your poem, especially after looking at the image. Weird the associations the mind sometimes makes.

    This is a poem that really stops and makes one think about our oddities, how we regard them, how we make use of them. But there is also, of course, much more going on in this poem. What you've done with the metaphor is stunning.

  6. P.S. I'd love to see how you'd interpret this in video.

  7. Thin line between freakish and blessed?

    You come up with some stuff, lady. I love how you wrap a truth in some very strange garb.

  8. From Therese L. Broderick -- I am struck by this poem! So much to think about. Men already have their "trinities" of God. Here we have a female trinity. I think that some Buddhist or Hindi gods/goddesses are depicted as having many arms -- a reference perhaps to the whirling forces of the universe, the wheelings of space and time? Mystical triad.

  9. Hannah, this one is terrific, and it really goes with that image. It's funny, because I was just thinking the other day of all the combinations of "Our of Lady of ..."

  10. I really like this. In addition to what others have said, you create and sustain one voice throughout; I find it chilling in its restraint.


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