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11/22/13

Hands

Hands that feed and hands that love
Hands that nurse and hands that kill
Hands that clutch the steering wheel anxious that they will mess up
Hands that lightly and resolutely turn the wheel
Hands that clutch desperately to it in the middle of the highway
Hands that dance, fluttering
Hands that are young, diaphanous
Hands that have pinkies, ticklies,
Hands that turned into gnarled roots, twisted by pain.

One time when I helped a Welsh woman, a documentary film maker, film the Gypsies of Hungary. They were recording a little Gypsy girl that was chanting words that to the foreign ears sounded like a beautiful incantation.
I smiled because the girl was saying:

I love my country I love my parents
I love my teacher I love Hungary
I love my siblings and I love math.

So is my simple poem.

You could write million words about hands.
About feet.
About shoes or handkerchiefs.

Hands in crucial moments:
Hands that caress to ecstasy
Hands that caress the growing, fruitful belly
Hands that put the nipple into the new born baby's mouth
Hand that try to push the belly back in shape
in the slim silhouette before pregnancy

Hands that pat you on your first well-written letter
Hands that give you an apple or a slice of bread with jam
Hands that teach you how to embroider
Hands that embroider
Hands that light the match
hands that snuff the candle out
Hands that slap you, hands that smack you
Hands that hug you, so ashamed of smacking you
Hands that wipe your tears
Hands that wipe their tears
Hands that push the hair underneath a scarf
Underneath a black widow scarf
Hands that wash pig intestines on pig killing winter days
Hands that mince the pork meat
Hands that stuff it in sausage peels
Hands that shake a pear tree
Hands that gather the fruit from the grass in an apron

Hands that make plum jam, push the stirring wooden handle in the copper cauldron,
feed the fire and wipe the forehead all night under stars above the fire sparkles
Hands that cover the face with laughing eyes
Hands that throw plates at you on your birthday

Hands that gather flowers
and give them as bribe to the teacher
or simply to see her smile
softening that tired stern face.
Hands that hit you in the belly

Hands that clean your pimply face, popping out black spots
Finger tips covered in white gauze
Hands that kneed bread, bake cakes, milk the cow, cut the chicken’s throat,
make an omelet or cook calf brain stews
Hands that play the drums, the violin, the piano

Hands that type, that transcribe recorded voices, pushing the rewind button conscientiously
to make sure they wrote every word accurately.
Hands that wind up a running late wrist watch, that adjust the lipstick,
puff up the hair,
and shake other nervous and joyous to meet hands.

Hands that turn pages and fold corners or apply yellow stickers studiously.
Hands that blow noses, wash crying eyes.
Hands that switch on the kitchen stove gas button on and don’t light a match
Hands that get invaded by gas and die pierced by needles.
Life is gone.

Hands that ask for justice, knuckles turned white with resentment
Hands that kill, push the trigger
Hands that fall down on the pavement,
bleeding in disbelief that they were killed.
Hands that accuse,
Hands that push the pocket seams in, eagerly, patiently waiting in line,
to get to fold the vote bulletin, hoping for a change.

Hands that switch off the TV in the middle of wicked political debates.
Hands that open the passport to look at the first American visa.
Hands that hold bags at the custom officer’s booth.

4/17/2000

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