I stare at my hands.
The lines are like hieroglyphics.
Only you could read them, as with the lips of your mouth
When you silently pre-empted an apology for speaking lies,
[“Forever” said your voice, “but not tomorrow,” your kiss]
while you traced my fate with your fingertips.
You must have seen something in them
For you read like the blind for the first time,
And realized the world
Like it was spinning by: as a babe on a carousel
Delights in the joys of a new world too fast to be understood –
colourful, loud, and whirling.
And then you were out
Like a trend, like a candle, like the wind from my breath
When I heard that you’d been carried on to a new world
In the happy receipt of white sheets and aluminum frame.
Death is such a cheap date.
I stare at my hands now
Like antiquated tools.
I cannot imagine now what will ever be made from them –
What could ever be as graceful as the bed we shared –
Could compare to the beauty of the stupid crooked birdhouse –
What love can come from the hands of the dead?
Stiff and cold and wax
Yours remain at your side in a cold grimace
A gesture so unlike your usually careless, happy nature.
I had tried to hold them. I was surprised by how false they felt,
Almost convinced that it was not you in that 6 by 2 glorified shoebox
Like the shoe boxes we together put away hamsters, birds, and mice.
Our hands dug out the dirt for those graves.
Mine sprinkled dirt onto yours
A ritual I never understood, just a symbol of the movies:
Sprinkling as though it were some sort of sacred blessing
Something to keep you safe
Though you are already far from me,
Six feet under and a lifetime gone.
I stare at my hands,
The tiny cut from the single hidden thorn on the rose I left
for your memory
A smear of blood, dried the colour of dirt.
I consider the blood these hands could draw –
The noose they could fashion,
The wooden handles they could wield
With the expertise of a blind craftsman.
I could find a million uses for these empty hands now,
heaven spilled from the cup that was formed between them
when you held mine and gave them purpose.
Oh, when these hands had purpose.
They touch the smooth, cool satin sheets on which we laid
My right runs over the polished wood of the posts
The left remains dumb, plucking at the edge of an Afghan, a gift.
They dance over your clothes, still embalmed in your scent
Slide through the dust on the dresser
And hold gently but firmly the picture of us in the black wooden frame.
They remember promises to hold on,
Grip at memories of explorers’ tug of war – which way do we go? –
Fumbling to recollect the sands of time and put them back.
Through the hair, and across the cheek
Soaking up tears I have no barrier for yet
Behind a pillow, no, your pillow – your favourite pillow
Limp from use and perfumed in your ghost.
I could think of a million uses for these hands
But tonight they belong to you
As you read the hieroglyphics
With the lips of your mouth
From the depths of my dreams,
Lying again and again that you’ll always be with me.
Tonight, at least, one more time, these hands belong to you.