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Hands



  1. Can be eyes, staring.

  2. Blindfolds, covering.

  3. A search party of ten, fumbling in the dark for the lost but sensed.

  4. With you, as close as language. In the mornings, instead of writing my dreams down, I would turn to your breath and tell you–about the trees, the fear. My palm cupping the back of your head was the parentheses. And the line I think we'll both remember was where fingers glided slow, down hip to tailbone.

  5. In the Presidio, when I reached behind me for your wrists in warrior pose, I remember fearing it was too much, and also wondering if soon, hands would not be enough-- if eventually there wouldn't be enough limbs, skin, places where I could hold you, feel you; hold me, feel me.

  6. Artists. How many times your hands cupped my face on the counter, or on the couch, as if attaching it to the rest of me. Or when, in the dark of an audience at the symphony, your hand squeezed mine and your fingers said, louder than the tubas, Yes, this! And mine said it back, without my asking them too. That's when I realized that my hands are also hands to you, doing all of this--or I hope at least some– to wherever feeling happens.

  7. A tourniquet. Press your hands to my chest, I said at the beginning, when my heart was running out.

  8. Put your hand on my throat, I said more recently, wanting them to admit to the silence they were seeking in my skin.

  9. Cowards, knuckling up to do the work that a soft sentence could do better. Sometimes, your hands didn’t reach me at all. 

  10. A debacle. All the words I tried futilely to turn into hands. Courageous, you say. But courage is doing what needs to be done; and sometimes my wordhands didn’t touch you at all, not where touch was needed.

  11. A few months ago in Moab, at the point on the trail when going out becomes coming back, I bent down and scooped a handful of red dust into my hands and said to myself--this resembles your shame, Martha–and slowly let the space between fingers widen, watched the red dirt become amber cloud.

  12. Nothing I press into my hands will stay. But whenever I pressed your hand to my mouth, it felt like the blackberry along the walking path that is actually as dark and sweet as it looks.

  13. And when I saw my fingers braided in yours on the Point Reyes bank, it was like seeing that pair of river otters arc and break the brown current--Look! Look! their wet bodies gleaming like ropes of hair. When they disappeared, I pressed my fingertips into your chest a little harder and exclaimed at our luck, or mine--Can you believe it?--which is the mystery: I could have a thousand hands, and still never know what you feel.

  14. When I moved to find my clothes, my fingers left little yellow moons across the sky of your chest, lights phasing from full to gone-ness in a night of seconds. 

  15. Meanwhile, overhead, black and gold caterpillars decided, what the hell, and leapt in unison from the branches to the sand, risking it all to make contact.

  16. Yesterday I returned to the same bank transformed by storm, and caught myself empty-handed inside of another poem, without the pen nor energy to write it down: the bare branches webbing against February sky, the scrape of tree arms when a breeze moved through; the murky otter-lessness of the slow, swollen tide.

  17. I was here to forget you, to remember you. Both.

  18. You have to get close to the thing you're trying to move. You have to hold it in your hands, sometimes for hours, until what you love and what you miss becomes life itself. Until the words, Oh, I'm in love with you, come out of your mouth and by, you, you mean no one in particular.

  19. Recently I dreamt you put your hands to my chest and pressed one last time. We smiled like children, pretending--that a heart could really be taken, could be put back.

  20. When I woke, I knew. But as I went about my day, carrying children and sentences to their ends, making a meal out of whateverI found-- I wished that the story of our hands was our story; that, on the last night, when I moved each of your fingers past my lips and into my mouth--pointer, then middle, then ring-- I was actually taking in every part of you, and you could actually hear my lips, which are sort of like fingers, chanting--you and you and you and you.

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