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Oil Painting of a Hand Holding a Taxidermied Bluebird HONORABLE MENTION Center-right: wings invisible, pinned like buttoned fronts of jackets around a rigid waxdrop body; small-clawed feet fixed or glued or stapled straight, perch-ready, pointing out the painting’s south-left corner, down past the wrist. Human death delivered formaldehyde stiffness, at the cost of first death’s stillness, between some hand’s thumb and dull-white forefinger, against the background beige, but the show lights and the painter’s soft-edged strokes bring the simple, broken, body back some life, leave it glowing, almost princely. In chiaroscuro blue, gem-like, lambent; and the golden glint of gallery lamps returns something, not quite but almost sunlight, to the soil-black shimmer in the single open eye.

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