Ode to Hands

by Susan J. Erickson

                              Your hands
speak sign language to the hard-of-believing.
                              Your hands bury

rumors and gossip where they rot in place. Your hands
                              pin medals
on the chests of tellers of truth. Your hands are mourning doves

                              nesting on granite
monuments of grief. Or are they camellia blooms stained
                              by winter rain?

Your hands plant prayers in depleted soil, tend their seedlings
                              under the bell jar
of faith. Your hands mark the hours of night on the ladder

                              of my back. Your hands
are weathered peninsulas in a sea that takes what it wants.
                              Always more?

Your hands fan the perfume of the Holy Trinity
                              into the kitchen
of our nostrils. Oh garlic, oh tomato, oh basil. Your hands

                              are canvas canteens
filled from artisan wells. The water tastes of tears distilled
                              by memory.

Your hands are a banked fire that can break into flame.
                              Your hands
and mine are motherless children. Your hands ask questions

                              we dare not
answer with words. Answer with music or songs in a language
                              not our own.

Today your hands are swallows hunting the white moths
                              that come in May
when trilliums bloom on a shaded hillside.

Copyright 2016, Susan J. Erickson

Susan J. Erickson’s first full-length collection of poems, Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine, recently won the Brick Road Poetry Prize. Her poems appear in Crab Creek Review, The James Franco Review, The Fourth River and The Tishman Review.

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