An Ode to Hands

by Angel Gonzales

After Kwame Dawes

Not so much the doing of things
but the hands of our making, their medicine,

the ordinary witness of grandma’s hands
padding and shaping sweetness, a cherishing,

if you will, of their inheritance, the bestowal
and succession, the intent of creation, the love

of softness, the finger-lickin’ stuff, and spit,
and cum, and then, the wiped and dried, leaving

behind residue of passion, a sticky remembrance
of a life lived, hand over hand, for the self

to honor and pray with when she walks
past the mirror and caves

to the sight of a landscape, the broad
shoulders, orbiting belly, man-hands

with sunken grooves as knuckles,
patches of black hair on stubs,

the startling girth of fingers and width
of palm, the fist, unable to disappear;

this is what one carries as a kind
of returning — the changing of a child’s diaper,

hands filled with mess, the rituals
of nurturing, the humbling warmth of a fat hand

or its swift correction, the dignity of holding,
the way we know how to feel through the dark.


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