My hands know the hair on your head
thinned enough to leave strands on your pillow
your shoulder muscles clench like fists,
under my hands when I lift you
from the wheel chair to your bed.
These are the same hands that clasped yours
In moonlit beach walks, or in arm wrestling matches,
the hands that held new carrots, then chopped them into fine pieces
for chicken soup, the last solid food you would eat.
My hands know your sagging jaw lines,
relaxed only in sleep or when I bent to kiss you,
until they were frozen in one panicked moment,
in the dark like a child fearing monsters .
My hands know the dabbing at water on your lips
and so many cloths brought out discreetly, then put away.
My hands know your fingers, cramped around a pen
as you scrawled out messages: Hungry! Where’s my shake?
or when your limbs were bared to the cold,
blankets crumpled at your feet: Cover me.
My hands know the course of your chest hair
rising in sparse mounds like Joshua trees and
dampened most mornings by night terrors
you told no one about. Pressure on the brain,
the doctor said.
My hands know your hands, as they slip from mine
and you turn, head bent toward the window,
then you are walking once more into the morning
on those atrophied legs that once ran in track meets,
and held me on your lap, my head on your chest.
My hands know emptiness.
Thank you, Robbi!
A respectful, precise and loving poem. Portraits with a portrait. Beautiful in its realism. We almost feel we should not be there and yet we all share in the universal moment of relationship and poignancy of end-of-life. Thank you for the courage to write and share this.
Thank you so much, Mary!
… didn’t want it to end …. write more about hands and relationships … this could be your “windows” that Billy Collin’s in known for.
Thank you very much for your very kind comments, Charlie! I am very happy you like the poem!
… didn’t want it to end …. write more about hands and relationships … this could be your “windows” that Billy Collin’s is known for.