the work of human hands.

L. Garza, Paper crane (2020).

It’s not perfect. The edges are folded with near precision. More rolled than folded in spots, not quite the crease you’re meant to aim for.

I know how small the hands were that folded this crane. I know the room where where it came to be.

There was a lesson connected to it. The simplicity that could become art. The care that it takes to think & create in honor of a loved one.

The teacher says it’s meant to be one of a thousand. An insurmountable task, a severe & demanding ritual, he thinks, though he doesn’t have those words for it yet.

But, she says, the work can be shared.

At some point, the ritual in the class becomes automatic, hands moving independent of the mind. Eyes looking across the table at loved ones, looking back across at you.

The first folds the easiest. Paper pliant & crisp. You get the feeling you could do anything with it. And then the working area gets smaller, the sharpness muddied. That’s the other lesson.

How hard it is to bring a thought into being, how much work it takes to honor a memory.


8 responses to “the work of human hands.”

  1. This is excellent, had to read it again. “And then the working area gets smaller, the sharpness muddied. That’s the other lesson.” That hit me in the gut. Then you close with this gem: “How hard it is to bring a thought into being, how much work it takes to honor a memory.” Really appreciate this writing, took me back to moments over the years of kids making cranes.

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  2. What a beautiful reflection – really a prose poem. There are many lines I love, but the end is especially poignant: How hard it is to bring a thought into being, how much work it takes to honor a memory. In fact, it reminds me a little of Richard Wilbur’s poem “The Writer” (https://poets.org/poem/writer) – something about the way you love him, the way you honour him.

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  3. Urgh, I just read a book where the characters were folding cranes…and I will come back and find it, because the sentiment was really similar…
    either way, eerily beautiful writing. You bring a micropscope to the act of folding; but zoom out to the larger symbol of love. Thank you.

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