These Hands

These hands, they frighten me.
The veins, bulging, snaking from wrist to fingers, signal the end.
These worn out mother’s hands once clenched in pain
as my onlyborn
struggled to be free.
These hands severed cord.
These hands put baby to breast.

These hands, they frighten me.
Skin transparent, dry.
These mother’s hands held countless books,
child on lap.
These hands, once creative
drew birds and flowers
danced over keyboards for child’s entertainment.

These hands, they frighten me.
Wrinkles where smooth used to be.
These impatient mother’s hands that ripped switch from tree.
Snapped it on child’s bare legs.

These hands, they frighten me.
Knots at the knuckles tell truth.
These mother’s hands carried child into cold light of emergency room.
These hands lay on heaving chest
rested on forehead, calmed.

These hands, they frighten me.
These mother’s hands that leapt to eyes
pulled at hair
put fist in mouth to hold back sob.
These hands that didn’t stop abuse.
Didn’t grab it by the throat and squeeze.
These hands that hung helpless by my side.

These hands, they frighten me.
Age spots scream no more chances.
Hands slap at suffocating air.

 

by nanci lee woody, 2012

(First Place, Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest)