A Geography of the Surface of My Palm

— Minying Huang

Somewhere out in Texas, a preacher believes
            the end is near, and it is a sign—that the
                        earth’s crust is peeling in two, or that it might
                                    be. ‘It is a sign,’

                                                I hear her say. I look down at my left palm,
                                    unsure if it’s the right one. I have never
                        been any good at following directions,
            but have always felt

as though our lives depended on it. But I
            cannot tell my lifeline from my headline from
                        my heartline. ‘Resurrection will require a
                                    leap of faith.’ Hái zi,

                                                can you do it?
‘This line, here, see, it’s splitting
                                    in two.’ Hái zi, can you stop it? I hear her
                        say, ‘You are destined for great things.’ The fate of
            this family rests

on you
. ‘The rest of them, they are lost—show them the
            way.’ I wet my hands in prayer, then the bed
                        at night. If I cannot yet tell left from right,
                                    what hope have I of

                                                telling right from wrong? The earth feverish, all
                                    the while, beneath our feet. Every year, she says,
                        shall be our last. I know, now. We invite death
            by living. They are

speculating that the earth’s crust is peeling
            in two because water is transforming rock.
                        Somewhere out in southern China, a woman
                                    believes the end is

                                                near. All things become signs. A hand, word, or step—
                                    wrong turns into dying. In grief’s rime, a child
                        slows to forgetting: the discharge of water;
            the liberation

of feeling. Somewhere here in England, it has
            been flooding, and is it a sign—that something
                        in the earth’s crust is softening, or that I
                                    might be, after all.

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