The edges of the folded handkerchief in her breast pocket looked sharp enough to slice bread.
– Raymond Chandler, from The Lady in the Lake (1943)
Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. S for Sentence celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. We post a sentence a month along with comments by a guest writer on the craft that shapes it, on what makes it great. In one or two sentences.
—Pearl Abraham, Editor
—Stephanie Grant, Guest Editor
The subject here is an item of clothing. What could be lower, more
frivolous, more domestic, more woman-y in the material pecking order of
patriarchy? It isn’t even proper clothing: it’s an accessory, used to wipe
away unwanted fluids. Look closer. This handkerchief has edges; it cuts
like a knife. It cuts ‘bread,' the stave of life. Substitute the ‘dg’ in
‘edges' with a ‘y’ and the handkerchief earns itself eyes, becomes an
observant killer. It's 'folded'—as neat and controlled as Chandler's prose.
Clean, we intuit, as yet unused. And it's tucked in a pocket over ‘her
breast.’ Protecting 'her' heart? Or maybe it's all 'she' has for a heart?
So who is 'she', this sharp-eyed, controlled weapon whose fabric is crying
out to be stained with tears, with snot, with blood, with cum? Just a broad
in a noir? Or something bigger? A Fury, Lady Liberty? This is 1943. War is
raging in Europe, a murder machine is running amok, American men are being
cut down on battlefields, civilians are dying for the want of bread. Context
— Mia Gallagher is the author of Hellfire and Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland