BellaOnline Literary Review
Sword Posta by Lisa Shea

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Non Fiction

The Mechanics of My Hands

Catherine McClain

Some talk about the mind-body connection. We wonder where who we are touches reality. We wonder when our souls meet our chests, when our thoughts on libraries and love and laundry become brain matter, the actual grey electric wires between our ears. But what about the things our bodies, our carbon constructions, do without direct control? I just thought that last sentence, and as I thought it, it appeared on the screen before me. Typing is a bit like breathing, once you begin. Donít think, just do. Once Iím in position, it just happens.

Hereís an example: For two summers and three Christmases, I waitressed at a little French restaurant named ďSuzetteís Creperie.Ē To ensure I was paid, I clocked in. Pretty normal procedure, did it twice a day, five or six days a week, for about seven months total. My last week, they switched systems and I began to clock in on a computer Ė except I couldnít remember my code. I had to walk over to the old machine, follow my handís rhythm of numbers, and then do it in the correct system. Mechanical, they act without thought. They move without command. I think Ė and my fingers move. No in-between, no second signal, just another type of breath.

What my hands have memorized: the first two lines of Minuet in G, my bank pin, computer password, the Knit stitch and purl stitch, the Qwerty keyboard.

But then, at times, my hands must work with my mind. Crepes come to mind again, but this time when I make them myself. Palm glued to a potís handle, elbow leading my wrist in quick circles, manipulating the mixture of eggs, cream, flour, until the dollop of batter becomes a film, a paper thin pancake. A minute passes, my hand grasps the handle, and power pushes from my shoulder, a jab, the crepe flips, a sweep to catch it. My palm connects the cook to the machine, attaches the pan to the motor and mind.

Maybe this is all connected to another fear: sleep talking. I canít stand the thought that I might talk without controlling what people hear me say, how I say it. I canít adjust my words based on the change in their eyes, the subtle shift in their shoulders. I donít like that my body does things without permission Ė maybe I feel betrayed by my hands. I donít want them to memorize my secrets, I canít be known without the filter I put to match the feel, the moment. Thereís no poker face when your hands work without you.

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