Barbara Paulus

A grade school teacher instructed me to skip over the parenetical when reading out loud. For years I listened to this directive, ignoring the between. Now I understand parenthesis as two hands grabbing my attention, not letting me ignore what is contained. A gesture for the reader to lean in. 

My existence thus far has been about affirming what it is that I want to hold and also hold onto, grasping what moves me, excites me. For this reason, hands are more intimate than a kiss. 

Reaching out to touch can be more difficult than it seems. I wish I were more obvious, less mysterious. I express admiration with a quiet mouth and wide pupils. 

I am aware of the world through hands-on contact. To connect to others, I need to present them with something tangible, something touchable. The nerves of fingertips are so sensitive, perhaps, for that reason. Even when I put on rubber gloves to find the watch that slipped into the trash, I could still feel the sensation of the wetness, the slime I was trying to block my fingers from. 

Many other animals perceive the world through their mouths. They bite and lick what rests in my palm. Yet, when feeling is so extreme, language is nothing but sounds