Tuesday, March 15, 2016

To the hands that labor


Your hands are stones
washing and rinsing clothes
flecking away grime and stains

Now your hands are cups
as you knead flour to fresh bread, 
pour water to thicken broth or steep tea

Then, your hands are sticks
digging deep in the earth
gardening seeds & rooting away weeds  

Though your skin has hardened
like thick maple sugar in old jar 
they are ivory feathers on cheeks
and tousled heads at night

The labor of everyday chores
crinkles a map of delicate veins
Here's your past, etched deep
as your mother
There's your future, held back by
list of family obligations

Sister, as you bend your head in yet another task:
sewing that wayward button to a shirt
My palms, waxed with poetry, murmur:

This rose is for you
for first day of spring & all the days
you bring spring





Picture credit:   Valerie Hammond


Posted for D'verse Poets Pub - Poetics - Can you give me a Hand by guest blogger, Mish ~

Thanks for the visit and comments ~

33 comments:

  1. "There's your future, held back by" ... Very clever.

    "My palms, waxed with poetry, murmur:
    This rose is for you
    for first day of spring & all the days
    you bring spring"

    Thank you. Consider me fingering its petals with one hand as I multitask with the other. Didn't I tell you that I'm ambidextrous?

    My azaleas are popping up like crazy over here. I've got to get my camera working again.

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  2. This is amazing... feels like a poem for 8th of March (or any other day)... Hands can be tools and feathers... and so much they can do... but yes they write poetry too... amazing poem

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  3. This almost brought me to tears, Grace. A very moving tribute to the deserving hands of a mother, the never ending work and sacrifice, but especially the love. How beautiful this is.

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  4. Perhaps another poem needs to be written about a father's hands; just saying; this piece so so wonderfully lyric & imaginative. Your fourth stanza is killer, very strong & quotable. Kudos & hugs for a fine job.

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    1. That is a wonderful suggestion, smiles ~

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  5. You sure gave a hand, palms full of verse indeed

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  6. I love this! And you and I were on the same page at one point ... the map ... a really terrific journey, thanks. (An aside - I can't believe how many Canadians I'm running into these days ... I live in Edmonton now, but am from Ontario originally - grew up in Scarborough - but still have relatives in Mississauga ... small world, huh?)

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  7. Ohhhhhhh. This is gonna stay with me:
    "My palms, waxed with poetry, murmur"

    Just.Too.Gorgeous.

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  8. This is such a clever, smart poem. The idea of hands as both containing and holding us, our history... but also, at the same time, holding us back. Great job.

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  9. I love the element of family here...

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  10. What a beautiful tribute to hands that labor with sacrificial love!

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  11. Though your skin has hardened
    like thick maple sugar in old jar

    Such a beautiful & poignant image.

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  12. There is much to love in working hands and the people who wield them. There is much to love in these words. Thanks for sharing them, Grace!

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  13. What a fine tribute you have written to hard working hands!

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  14. This is beautiful! I could picture not only these hands but the life they've lived as well. Peace, Linda

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  15. This is beautiful! I could picture not only these hands but the life they've lived as well. Peace, Linda

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  16. I was especially touched when in your last stanza you use "sister." To me it's a testament to all women everywhere who toil and sacrifice so much and yet don't see it as a sacrifice at all. Love the tender "haiku" at the end...just so lovely.

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  17. A beautiful use of metaphor: hands as cups, stick and stones. My favourite lines are:
    Though your skin has hardened
    like thick maple sugar in old jar
    they are ivory feathers on cheeks
    and tousled heads at night

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  18. Thanks for this rose. I claim it. :)

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  19. A wonderful tour of a life through hands.

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  20. Hands can be so many things. Love how you showed how those hands hardened by hard work can also be the same hands that give a soft touch of love.

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  21. How mothers sacrifice. They slog and sweat for the family until it 'crinkles a map of delicate veins' of the hands. How very true Grace! Brilliantly dealt with here!

    Hank

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  22. The way you wrote this was stunning Grace, I enjoyed and digested it like a fine meal.

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  23. This is wonderful. I especially love the skin thickened like maple sugar in an old jar that is light as feathers on tousled heads.

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  24. A good reminder that our hands are never idle, whether working, loving, or caring for others. I enjoyed reading this lovely poem very much.

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  25. What a beautiful tribute to hands that work hard and love tenderly

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  26. Quite beautiful, Grace. Working with the elderly, I've always love to contemplate hands and all they have done over the years.

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  27. The variety of form and function of the hands in your poem is delightful.

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  28. "Though your skin has hardened
    like thick maple sugar in old jar
    they are ivory feathers on cheeks
    and tousled heads at night"

    If that is not an apt imagery of familiar love, I know not what is. What a beautiful write.

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  29. Hands say so much, and I like the different things they express in your poem, Grace. The ending is very touching.

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  30. This poem is so moving, Grace. What a great deal of love pours forth from such hands and this poem. ♥

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  31. Lovely homage to the labor of women. Very real. Very moving.

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  32. Knuckles bent by arthritis..
    fingers and thumbs thick
    from picking cotton..
    raising sisters..
    without a mother..
    My Grandmother
    waitresses 12 hours
    iNhAnd and feat of feet..
    rest comes early iN her 50's..
    as my mother takes care
    of her
    for
    rest
    iN Life..
    and then those
    hands paint in her
    60's.. when her father dies..
    Hands of change
    Hands
    of work
    and Art Free..:)

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