By Your Hand
I peer at the ridges of your palm
rested along the crevice of mine,
while tracing your jagged vasculature
with a delicate press of my finger,
and I explore every uneven wrinkle,
every pronounced callus, every rounded
mole like it is the hilly, stone-ridden
backyard of my childhood home in Mongmong.
I know this place. I have been here
before. I read the swirls inscribed
into your firm dark skin, sound out
each node and connecting branch,
sew syllables into words that spell
out gima’: home.
I raise your hand transposed against
the evening sky, clear of clouds, and I
can find the constellations within you.
Did you know our forefathers did this at sea—
placed their arm to the heavens to translate
the stars? Master navigators of the open ocean,
yet you, my love, are more than a map; I dare
not fold nor decipher your complexity. You
are the beloved, longed-for destination at the end
of the journey, the place that our ancestors craved
return, the reason for the expedition—refuge,
promise, hope. You are home.
Copyright © 2022 by Haʻåni Lucia Falo San Nicolas. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 25, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
“This poem was inspired by love—the love of my partner, my ancestors, my culture, and my upbringing as an Indigenous CHamoru and Samoan woman who was born and raised in Guåhan. I find a profound sense of love, support, and comfort from the intimacies within my various relationships to land, water, and people, and I wanted to honor these deep, ancestral connections in my writing.”
—Haʻåni Lucia Falo San Nicolas