I’m thinking of the way we’re born with our fists clenched
and how we die with them open.
So much in life depends on
these two simple gestures.
I’m thinking of our hands
and all the ways we use them.
The way we grasp for things.
The way we run our fingers down each other’s backs.
The way we show affection,
give pleasure with them,
bring ourselves and others to the point of orgasm.
The way we pick up a pen
and write things down with them.
The way they shake sometimes.
The way we build bridges,
or slip rings onto the fingers
of those we love.
The way they can be used for terrible things,
like strangling somebody
or slapping someone’s face.
The way we hold guns with them, light fires,
fly airplanes into buildings.
The way we can pin somebody down against their will
or hold them back from error.
The way we use them to feed ourselves.
The way we steal with them.
The way we hold them up to protect our faces,
or use them to cover our mouths.
The way we make sound.
The way we snap.
The way we take measurements.
The way we raise them over our heads.
Put gloves on to keep them warm
or to knock each other out.
The way we can somehow map our destinies across them,
or lift ourselves up,
or cut things down,
or hold on tightly to things.
The way we can let them go.
from The Early Death of Men, NYQ Books, 2012