Ghost Hands

Ghost Hands

Ghost Hands

by Dunya Dianne McPherson

Dunya's Hands by Jadina Lilien

Like everyone, I’ve been teaching on Zoom. Dancemeditation, because of its visual and individualistic nature, works quite well here. Session time is a world of wondrous movement. We are at home, moving and watching in-tandem, or with closed eyes each immersed in our own experiences. On the host end, I struggle off and on with finicky toggles to stream music from my laptop, which is what I am doing close to the screen as described below. Yet this particular day, standing close to do a mundane task, my hands became inscrutably not my own. They were ‘other’, visiting me from the Beyond. Lately I’ve wondered if the general daily habit of flat, sensationless screen viewing in quarantine carves new relational neural pathways that supplant 3-dimensional interpersonal capacities. If this is so, then ’other’ coming to visit is even more compelling in its ability to open affect…It is a hopeful instance of how our being finds new ways to be just as human as it has always been…


I stand close to my computer screen. In the top row in Gallery View, the curtain of my red patterned tunic fills the postage stamp bearing my name. I glance at the other three rows below. Body parts swing and dart in frames. Contained creatures, we live and dance now in a stack of stamps. Our peripheral worlds are hidden, though I suppose the periphery of any human life has always been hidden, even to itself. Somehow the cut off edges makes this sharp. I allow myself only a glance because each person is doing their own dance and, out of practiced courtesy, I do not want to invade their privacy; I only check to make sure nothing is amiss.


There in the top row, in a postage stamp filled with a red patterned garment, two large pallid hands shift, fingers thick as deep ocean worms tethered to a chunk of geology, sucked back and forth by sluggish current under the weight of miles of water. These hands from another world, once they’ve caught my eye, begin their semaphores. The slow turning of one to face up as the other points a fingertip slowly just so into its palm, then traces to the tender inner wrist. Languid, not bound by airy time. Then come marches of mudras, fingertips touching thumbs yet without the exaggeration of the Bharatnatyam performer’s symbolic narration. Here is only the barest bowing to the grand miracle of opposable digits which make human life full and free, and grasped. The ghostly hands against red cloth whisper the shape of some amorphousness being ever-so-gently inserted into my heart. A delicate surgery is happening, happens now, now has happened which I only recognize when I begin to cry, the spreading stain soft and wide as pain can be. The fingers move more quickly. I cannot tell if they stitch or unstitch. Sorrow swells in the room where, since the worldwide illness commenced, I have been tucked home safe, walking back and forth in the spaces between the carpet and the candlesticks. I step backwards into that room, away from the hands that diminish and depart, and inhale the dark mossy sorrow-rich green which, whenever it comes, is always strangely cool and damp, as if it has been sleeping in the woods until called.

I am delighted that you are with me and appreciate your sharing these writings friends. Thank you!

My work and writing are sponsored by Dervish Society of America, a nonprofit organization helping people realize their human and spiritual potential by honoring their body and its movement ways using evolutionary Sufi Dancemeditation practices. Thank you for your gift. It’s tax-deductible! Contribute Now

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Caryn/Karen Donovan Goode
Caryn/Karen Donovan Goode
3 years ago

Lovely, Dunya, thank you for sharing this. I have begun/returned to writing myself during these last strange months, and perhaps because of that I enjoy reading your words even more! The alchemy of experience into words into experience again for the reader…

Last edited 3 years ago by Caryn/Karen Donovan Goode