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September 02

Bending Spoons
D.M. Hendricks

a shared realization that the universe is much, much more than they previously imagined.

THIS IS TRUE: I’ve seen her bend spoons held by others. It works like this—someone sits across from her, they hold a spoon in their left hand, usually a fist clinched tightly, a portion of the head and the neck of the spoon visible above their grip. She takes their right hand and holds it gently, sometimes stroking it softly, and then she gazes deeply into their eyes. Her eyes are light brown, the pupils dark, the irises full of stars, and the more deeply you return her gaze, the more deeply you wander into her fields of stars, the less you are in the chair across from her, the more the spoon in your left hand becomes a memory distant and dim, and only her touch cradling your right hand tethers you to this space.

When you return, though your friends will not know you have been away, you will see that the spoon in your left hand is bent at the neck ninety degrees, always pointing due west. (She is more powerful and more reliable than the magnetic north pole. You can check this with a compass—I already have.) Your friends will ask if you heard their ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhs’ during this magic? It is best to simply say yes, pretend you were just playing along, that it is all a trick, and that you cannot share it because you have pledged to protect the conjurer’s secrets.
The lines will be shorter this way.

Amazingly, she can do this with both plastics and metals. I asked her once if she ever simply held a spoon in her own fist, watching it melt then curve to the west, and she answered, ‘Why would I do that? What would I learn?’

These are skeptical and rational times—but our rationality has bounds. Newtonian space and time are adequate explanatory principles that work for ninety-nine percent of the world we will know in our brief lifetimes. Ask a bigger question and you will discover that the math is too hard, your brain will ache, and you will not understand. But there will be those around you who will whisper excitedly among themselves in a language that will be difficult for you to follow, and they will be smiling at each other in a shared realization that the universe is much, much more than they previously imagined. Newtonian principles will still govern ninety-nine percent of their waking lives—but they will have at least a hint of what governs the remaining one percent.

I cannot tell you how she bends spoons held tightly by others. I cannot adequately describe how soft and warm her hands are. I cannot tell you where I go when I am adrift in the star fields in her eyes. The spoon will bend and it will point due west. If she tells me that planets orbit in elongated rectangles rather than ellipses in her universe, I will tend to believe her. In these skeptical and rational times, I smile at the others standing round the table who have held her hands. By their relaxed smiles, I can sense that we are all amazed and fascinated by her powers; but also by how easy it was to forget our facades in the presence of her charm. For all of us, I’m sure, there is something more we want to apprehend of her. Still, I think we are learning as much about ourselves as we are of her: what if she is really teaching us how to bend the spoons and find due west?

© D.M. Hendricks
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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