Not a clone, but a caveat

by Gemma Gordon

I have my father’s hands. How can it be so, that we rebirth limbs with such desperate acuity? Maybe he whispered instructions to the extended tautness of my mother’s form and murmured coding of his silhouette to my furious sprouting mush. Perhaps I paid heed back then in the same way infant me, toddler me, child me regurgitated his requests for that smacking seal of approval; stamp, stamp, stamp. But if wax melts in warmth, why did it ooze to indifference in colder climes? I hear him now, not reprimands, but mumbles of shrugging resignation to a lot in life imprinted with a rigid certainty, resolutely splayed like these spidery gesticulating digits that Grandmother touched the piano with, her flow of fingers assuaging the black on white; greyscale more palatable than the motley tones of vivid implacable things in the next room. Does hand-me-down skeletal apparatus scaffold around the ossified narratives we clutch, these autobiographies; auto, auto, Das Auto, can I spin and accelerate the Bio towards lands beyond or crash through the graveyard of Graphies, but to slow and sink into pre-dug, capacious caverns; hole-some, hand-some, STOP. Her hands, his hands, will not colonise my hands. My father gave me my hands.

Gemma Gordon is finishing an MSc in social and cultural psychology at the London School of Economics. She has lived and worked in Northern Thailand and enjoys her food and conversations raw. She runs like a toddler overcome by whimsy and lifts heavy things for fun. She’s open to opportunities to travel and work with organisations promoting positive social change through innovation. For all things glaringly or vaguely related to writing and psychology, email gordong@tcd.ie.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Not a clone, but a caveat”?

Watching my fingers flit across my laptop keyboard spurred a perplexing deluge of emotion. Maybe more than a few of us carry cognitive and corporeal inheritances that we tacitly allow to gnaw at, and burrow into our self concept. In this short piece, I decide on a schism between both hand-me-downs, and wash my hands of my father’s hands and his mother’s hands. I took some prose-etic license and vilified my relations to fictitious characters.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now open. The reading period for standard submissions closes again December 15, 2023. Submit here.


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12/25 • Trish Hopkinson
12/31 • Kim Chinquee
01/01 • Jill Michelle