He had six fingers on each hand and played improvisational piano. The audience leaned in to hear his tinkling brook as it splashed around the fat stones of the double bass. The air at the club was dark and his hands were quick. Nobody noticed the extra digits. Later, at the after-party, a woman lingered beside his wine. She wouldn’t have put it this way, but she was weary of the five-fingered world. She wanted to hear herself say the chords that only his hands could form.


Charles Rafferty’s most recent collections of poems are The Smoke of Horses (BOA Editions, 2017) and Something an Atheist Might Bring Up at a Cocktail Party (Mayapple Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, O, Oprah Magazine, Prairie Schooner, and Ploughshares. His stories have appeared in The Southern Review and New World Writing, and his story collection is Saturday Night at Magellan’s (Fomite Press, 2013). He has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, as well as the 2016 NANO Fiction Prize. Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College and teaches at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.