Winter 2023 • Vol. XLV No. 1 NonfictionFebruary 23, 2023 |

The Girl the Girls Piece Together

But he looked at her hands and saw they were real living hands. —The Brothers Grimm, “The Girl with No Hands” Hand The pears in the orchard have been numbered with ink. When the hungry runaway scales the stone wall, studies the branches, she takes a moment to choose. Number nineteen appears to be the largest. Number two hundred and forty, one of the ripest. She settles on this one here, a smudged forty-two, within reach of her mouth. She keeps her arms at her sides and lifts her chin, takes the first wet bite with the fruit still attached to the tree. It’s not because she has no hands, although she has no hands, cut off by her own father to satisfy one of the Grimms’ demons. It’s because she has seen other women reach for love this way. No timidity, no hint of shame in how much space and thirst wait in their throats. They drink a kiss down like it’s a meal, like it’s a song singing itself. She wants a world where there is nothing to savor, no separation, no dol

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Photo of Marianne Erhardt
Marianne Jay Erhardt lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her nonfiction appears or is forthcoming in Oxford American, Orion, River Teeth, storySouth, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of Ruminate Magazine’s 2021 VanderMey Nonfiction Prize, a 2019–20 North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship, and most recently, a Pushcart Prize nomination. She received her MFA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and teaches in the writing program at Wake Forest University. Erhardt is currently seeking a publisher for her collection of lyric essays on motherhood, care, and imagination.

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By Diane Mehta

But he looked at her hands and saw they were real living hands. —The Brothers Grimm, “The Girl with No Hands” Hand The pears in the orchard have been numbered […]

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