Hands

Location

I tied lavender teabags
to my whittled white
fingers and pretended
I was Virginia Woolf.
However, Virginia sank
into the River Ouse
and I,
into my bathtub.
I wanted to sleep
and sink
into an amethyst void
like a first-time lover
delving deep
inside a foreign body.
My hands ached and
over time
my fingers grew
too crooked to play
piano and paint
my garden.
Brittle bones grew
spurs as I watched them
slant to the sides of my
skin which cracked
during the winter
and bled amply
from Plath paper cuts
and picking
roses and wild berries.
Fingernails withered
from years
of anxious biting,
barely concealed
with crimson
chipping polish.
I once traced
the worn lines in my palms
to the day
I read my first love poem
and touched
my first pair of lips.  
Seventy-nine years were shown
on my hands through tanned age spots
and yellowed stains
from 300,000 thousand cigarettes
that I once held and huffed.
A year after
my husband died
a phantom limb formed
in-between my fingers
that once were wholly woven
around his.
The past was mapped across my skin
and my hands worked as clocks;
they could always
tell time.  
 

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