These hands held mine each Sunday night and clipped my nails,
while I wriggled and watched the clippings fall
like sawdust into the crease of the newspaper.
As broad as the spades they pushed through the dirt,
they hammered and sawed,
patched pipes, fixed rooves,
built houses, a hospital, a school.
And a cubby for my sister and me,
with two rooms, shelves, a seat,
and windows of glass held by putty still soft.
And when I finished last in a race,
these hands slid around my shoulders
and stroked my back
as I cried.
They could be angry, too, these hands,
raised in the air, one finger pointing.
The words irrelevant;
the finger louder than the voice.
These hands held their mother’s
the night before she died.
‘Ah, these hands have done kind deeds,’ he said,
and clipped her nails one last time.
A few years’ later,
they held a face twisted in grief
by the death of a daughter.
They held mine down an aisle
and passed me to my husband,
and I left them
empty of daughters.
I hold these hands that no longer hammer or saw,
or even grasp a spoon.
The muscles wasted,
the tendons like bridges over the hollows,
withered by the disease that has taken the brain
before the body.
The sun has used them as a canvas,
and time has treated them like a page,
and life has written its story in their creases.
I cling to the story they tell.
‘They did kind deeds, these hands,’ I whisper,
and clip their nails one last time,
before I let them go.
Absolutely beautiful, Louise. Touched my heart.
Thanks Karen. It’s unpolished, but it’s a start …
Heart-wrenchingly beautiful, Louise. The story of a loving life told through a man’s hands. I now hold a lovely picture of your Dad in my heart. I never met him yet I believe he would be so proud of these precious words. xx
I hope so. There was something about his hands that I loved—strength, kindness, humility. Thanks for your words, Tricia.
Just loved this poem. So beautiful. A wonderful tribute to your father, and a gift for your children. xx
Thanks, Marlish. xx
Absolutely beautifully expressed with love and sadness. Made me cry.
Thanks, Betty. xx
I liked this very very much, Louise.
Thanks, Lauren. As I say, it’s unpolished, but that’s what I like about blogs—you can revise and edit them to make them better …
My heart said “Wow” before my brain could even form the words. Beautifully done, Louise.
Thanks, Penny. It’s funny how one’s heart can do that, and I know exactly the feeling you mean!
Your words are magic and will touch many xxx
Thanks so much, Rae xx
This is a beautiful poem, Louise. Thank you for sharing it.
Thanks, Jo! Now that I’ve written it, I want to polish it up, give it a proper form, make it better. I’m getting right into this poetry thing!
A beautiful tribute. Lovely!
Great to hear from you, Iris. How are things?
Beautiful snapshot Louise That’s a keeper
Thanks, Penny 🙂
I’ve just found your blog page via a Facebook posting and although my response to your poem is very late, I wanted to let you know that I loved it. When my mother was dying I wrote something similar, which I called ‘Cold Hands.’
It doesn’t matter how late it is, I love getting comments, so thank you! I’d love to read your poem about your mother’s hands sometime … x