~ these hands ~
I spent the day in the garden.
A day close to nature is always a day of coming home to myself.
But beyond the outer signs of broken nails and blisters, sits a softer, simpler awareness.
An unspoken intimacy.
For as I tend my garden, I tend my heart.
My body lifts, shifts and bends.
My hands clasp, grasp, release.
Sacred movements, simple acts of reverence.
As I chop, prune, mulch and mow, as I move through sunshine and shadow, as I sweat and feel the cool kiss of the sweet spring breeze, I reflect back on the many and varied seasons of my life.
I look at my hands and feel grateful – even though they are grubby and sore – these hands say and do more than my words ever will.
Have stroked the faces of the dying. Have held a newborn as his mother continued to bleed.
Have slowly caressed the body of my beloved.
Have peeled potatoes, chopped the onions, shelled the peas.
These hands have stopped the busy highway traffic, as I’ve helped victims flee from crumpled cars.
Have with trembling fingers dialled emergency numbers, desperate for help, but with a terrified and broken heart.
These hands have shaved the chins of elderly men, warmly washed the bodies of the frail and of the aged.
Have painted landscapes in the sparkling morning sunlight, have released healed birds from inside their cage.
They’ve scrubbed floors and stairs, straightened tangled hair, rubbed shoulders, created puppet shows.
They’ve clawed the backs of lovers, slipped out from under covers, to wipe many a runny nose.
These hands have clung tight to runaway toddlers, stirred soup and curries, slipped on stockings and high heeled shoes.
They’ve scooped up a slippery newborn from between my legs, and deftly delivered my own placenta, while shoo-ing others from the room.
These hands have washed clothes in African rivers, wrung and slapped them hard against ancient stones.
They’ve cut grass, planted seeds, sewn buttons, fought disease with medicinal rubs I’ve bought from wrinkled Indian crones.
These hands have cradled my sleeping daughters, they’ve been wrung and clasped in prayer.
They have frosted cakes, mended gates and applied makeup with great care.
These hands have washed countless dishes, lit fires, candles, incense, and written letters by the score.
They have wiped tears, passed tissues, beaten drums and made pickles, opened and closed so, so many doors.
They’ve been clenched in fists and pounded into pillows when emotions too strong have stayed.
These hands have shaken with fear, when danger has been near and all my courage seemed to have strayed.
These hands have crafted endless feelings into words and verse, they have written so many poems and songs.
These hands have reached out to others, when no language was able to tell them that they simply and naturally, belong.
They juggle and gesture the myriad words that my mouth finds just too hard to say.
My hands touch, create and do the huge work of my heart, out for me in this world every day.
(c) Chandu Bickford 2018