The 2River View 18.1 (Fall 2013)

Marcel Gauthier


Morning dark. In the pick-up ahead
a cigarette at the cracked window
jabs into the flying air, ashes
bouncing by like beads.
Hovers there.

As it does throughout the long commute,
my focus wavers (taillights, the stitching
of white lines) and I find myself
thinking. Thinking of what?
I should know because

next moment there it is, wheeling mid-air:
the end, the bright surprise. It explodes
on the hood, sprays sparks
across the windshield,
goes blank.

But the after-world is clear. Ahead a stoplight
turning yellow, turning red. And all of us
slowing, pressing to a mass—floating
as on a black river. Impatient
as shades.

Nothing Like a Hand

Her aunt heard that the touch of a dead man would erase her birthmark, so she took her to the morgue…

Instead a dull
and formless chill, a deepening
pressure and tingling
as the mark awakens, releases
its hold…
She pictures
what will take its place: a white
scar shaped like a hand?
Or the ghost of a rose?
Will people stare—still—then look away
for what is gone? She tries to imagine
her face without it, but sees
air where it should be,
sees straight through.

With her open eye,
she watches her aunt,
expectant, tight-lipped.
Sees the disappointment
when the hand is removed.
And by the third hand,
anger—Stubborn child…

Knows what her aunt’s hand
will feel like gripping hers
when they finally walk back
between the closets of the dead
through the seeping cold
and the aching smell
and into the sun.

Marcel Gauthier received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he was a Randall Jarrell Fellow. A recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. contact

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