I Come From Hands

I come from hands
that make things beautiful—

tablecloths, pillowcases, pie.

I come from hands
that fix things—
untying knots, un-lumping gravy,
uncoupling train cars.

I come from hands
that feed a family, a community, the forgotten
with anything they find

I come from hands
that finger prayer beads
in the night
murmuring prayers
learned by rote
from the keepers of the patriarchal

I come from hands
that make cookies, cake, and pie
for large bunches of people
on farms, in churches, at school.

I come from hands
that preserve, save and store—
food for the winter
in rows of bright jars
shining in the root cellar
or beside the coal bin
in the basement.

I come from hands
that knit and crochet
hands that embroider and sew
hands that darn and mend
even hands that tatted lace
for no reason but swooning—
or maybe—joining the regal economy.

I come from hands
that love to hold a baby close,
that rarely rest,
that prefer Jergens Lotion.

I come from hands
that are big
and capable
wide and strong.
They might wear one ring or two
because it is the custom.

They might wear clear nail polish
on a very special occasion.

I come from hands
that do not call for attention
short nails, square fingers
arthritis settling in
as life becomes long.

I come from hands
that switch from embroidery to crochet
from making bread to crossword puzzles
from braiding and tying to
patting and folding—
thumbs moving in circles
as the Jeopardy questions call
for pointed memory.

I come from hands that
kept to themselves.
tucked in the children,
served the relatives,
learned to hug through
practiced repetition
in the 70’s.

I come from hands that picked flowers
every Sunday—
walking through the woods
to place upon a lover’s grave.

I come from the hands of failed farmers,
and graceful transformation.
I come from the hands of washing, ironing, and clotheslines in the wind
I come from the hands of Sunday dinners
every single day—
the big meals that make farming
go.

I come from the hands of secrets
and unspoken dreams.
From large families and
conventional assumptions.
I come from the hands that are held
only until a certain age.
The hands of expectation, duty, and debt.

I come from the writing hands, the painting hands,
the cursive and embellishing hands.
I come from nursing and serving hands.
I come from hands that held me up—
and hands that let me go.
Hands that beckoned,
and hands that locked the door tight.

The hands are with me still—
stretching for the truth,
tapping out the shreds
longing for the whole.

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One thought on “I Come From Hands

  1. Pingback: Kendrick Wronski: Woman Behind the Painted Signs. – Anne Winkler-Morey Minneapolis Project

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