Various Gloves

by Cole Swensen

As if a hand had once been an aerial thing, a bit like a balloon, floating across the tops of the trees, and becoming more and more a part of the sky, which thinned its membrane, which in turn caused it to deflate, lose shape, and land on the table in my entry, not empty, but heavier than air, though lighter than life.


And then there was that glove in the Proust exhibition (Musée Carnavalet, winter 2021)—white kid so finely drawn, the fingers no fatter than cigarettes. Gant d’homme. What could such a fragile hand ever have done. And what could it have not. I’m alone in the room, and so I stroke the hand of the marble statue beside it because the glove itself is locked under glass.


And yet it’s still its own animal, the kid of which it was made, the calf, the suede, still grazing in their fields, gathering in their flocks, and wandering off in their five-fingered way through the mist.

Published on December 28, 2022

First published in Harvard Review 59.