When I fall asleep my hands leave me. They pick up pens and draw creatures with five feathers on each wing. The creatures multiply. They say: "We are large like your father's hands." They say: "We have your mother's knuckles." I speak to them: "If you are hands, why don't you touch?" And the wings beat the air, clapping. They fly high above elbows and wrists. They open windows and leave rooms. They perch in treetops and hide under bushes biting their nails. "Hands," I call them. But it is fall and all creatures with wings prepare to fly South.
When I sleep the shadows of my hands come to me. They are softer than feathers and warm as creatures who have been close to the sun. They say: "We are the giver," and tell of oranges growing on trees. They say: "We are the vessel," and tell of journeys through water. They say: "We are the cup." And I stir in my sleep. Hands pull triggers and cut trees. But the shadows of my hands tuck their heads under wings waiting for morning, when I will wake braiding three strands of hair into one.
From Cup of Cold Water by Siv Cedering, © 1973. Reprinted with permission of Siv Cedering. All rights reserved.
Date Published: 1973-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/hands