The starfish on our arms that live and move on land;
flippers sliced to form fingers: human hands.
Hands fly in front of us like shields at threat
or hurt; heraldic signs, splayed: warning hands.
“My hands are tied,” we say when all avenues are shut,
the head and heart no use without the hands.
After birth they’re counting the fish-roe fingers
that curl around everything close – a baby’s hands.
No glove can warm, no hearthfire heat the soul,
like the silent, unsought grasp of a child’s hand.
The wedding rings turned and turned on her
shrunken white bones, my grandmother’s nighttime hands.
When the heart is desolate and despairs of receiving
the loved one, she can live on the sight of his hands.
Palm to palm is like a nakedness, heel to head.
Is the whole body recapitulated in the hands?
When we think of Christ, it’s not the scourge or crown
that make us cringe – it’s nails through the hands.
Divestiture: that’s what the upturned palm is for.
It says: “Take what’s there. Leave me two empty hands.”
—Diane Tucker is a poet from Vancouver, B.C. This piece, taken from Diane’s latest collection Bonsai Love (2014), was reprinted by permission from Harbour Publishing.