Craft or Sullen Art
Shadow of My Hand
The title "Shadow of My Hand" comes from another one of Dylan Thomas's poems, "Fern Hill." "Fern Hill" is about a childhood immersed in nature, in the rhythms of the seasons, in the heart of farm life. Biblical allusions abound and the childhood home, a farm called Fern Hill, is likened to Eden; coming of age is likened to Adam and Eve's fall from grace. This poem speaks to me personally because my extended family has its own Fernhill/little bit of paradise. All 40+ of us cousins, aunts, and uncles take it by turns to share a summer place called Fernhill. I have no idea if my grandfather, who had Welsh immigrants for parents (Dylan Thomas was Welsh), consciously picked the name because of the poem, or if it was already called that when he bought it, or if the name was a just an astute observation that the property is on a slope and is covered in ferns.
Somehow all of us have managed to share it as a summer vacation place without killing each other, which I think says a lot about how cool the people in my family are, and also the supreme importance my family places on having a place to go swimming after work.
The third generation of my clan's children are spending summers at Fernhill now, and it's to this wave of kids that Allie, my model, belongs. She had just turned thirteen when she modeled for me--passing right through the door between childhood and adulthood. The line that inspired the title comes near the end of the poem:
Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising...