Saturday, December 17, 2011

These Hands

These hands are quilting even now
The last she’ll ever sew
A gift for someone very dear
A love he’ll always know

These hands have brought great comfort
To a beloved husband at his death
These hands held seven babies
As they took their first breaths

These hands held the first books
Many children learned to read
And crafted letters late at night
Just what we would need

These hands were raised in anger
At injustice in our days
Pressed gently on piano keys
In the evening as she played

These hands gave me great comfort
And strength when I was weak
They lifted me when I was down
As she kissed me on the cheek

These hands could be so gentle
These hands could be so strong
These hands have taught me lessons
I’ll keep my whole life long

And if my hands are worthy
And if my hands do right
It’s because my hands have been in hers
And I’ll try with all my might

To do with them the right things
That I could make her proud
To pull these old guitar strings
And raise my voice out loud

To let my hands be gentle
To let my hands be strong
To help raise others to their feet
To help right what is wrong

And if my hands could only
Go where she would reach
Then when my time to go is here
Then I could go in peace

To leave this world a better place
Is how she used her hands
And if I could only follow her
I’d be a better man

1 comment:

Chris Hass said...

This is a beautiful poem, Tim. Speaking of poems, I heard a poem yesterday that made me think of you. It's by Marie Howe and is titled "What the Living Do." Here it is...

What the Living Do

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat's on too high in here and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living. I remember you.