poetry and poets

Monday, January 03, 2005

my hands & everything

my hands & everything
tony gallucci

Okay. She said my hands were very nice. What on earth? Was it my touch, which I had hardly given her, or how they looked, which she could see, but could not know the times they held lizards from the whitethorn and sunflower field behind the old house on Fourth Street, or the limp carcass of a Spanish dove, dead from the BB's, sad gift from me, or the raw blistered time of picking squash, hijole what a time that was, never again. She held my hand a lot after that, held one hand, but held it in both hands like honey she would never let go, and I never knew if she wanted me or my hand the most, this I give my hand in marriage maybe she misunderstood I don't know, but she must've figured it out because she never gave hers away like that. When numero dos said almost identical the same thing, "you have such beautiful hands" I was becoming on the suspicious side, what is up with my hands, like maybe she was loving me for some deep down inside reason, or for the way my hands could work her into that smile, before we lay soft belly to soft belly, and fell asleep like that for even some time in the daytime when it was cool in November, or maybe she was just trying to think of something nice to say, since we both knew I was el feo, and this way she could be at least complimentary before we sank into each other, whether 'twas lust or one step beyond, we knew was fooling around, not really love, but we could pretend couldn't we? Anyway, this hands things was getting to me. They would say this you know, and I would look at my hands and think, I don't see nothing, but I took to looking at the hands of everyone around me, especially the men. Sometimes I convinced myself that I had special hands, like they were some man's hands. Sometimes, it was like they were nice and soft and puro macho pero not like someone who dug wells in the hard caliche or was picking those damned squashes all the time, but were strong and gentle like a Belgian horse, huge and powerful but could eat the sugar from your palm and felt like you were kissed, hardly touch you at all, and you were alive with that one huge animal. I started shaking hands such that people would look at my hands, say oh my what a handshake, kids making bets on who could stand it the longest before begging away. In the end the girls they have gone on, left with a vision of who knows what face, but those nice hands, and maybe are still using that line on someone else, maybe passing it around in secret books solo por las damas that get retold in the cheap tabloid papers in the grocery lines, cincuenta cada uno. Me? I am going back to my hands just being hands again. Holding babies tight to my chest, like hey this is more a man than just his hands. And hugging children get no hugs at their house, 'cause no one is home, never, or no one cares anymore about anything, much less hug a kid don't know right from wrong, up from down, slaps an ear now and then, this kid he knows better, but I know better, I forgive you, don't do it again, even if nobody's home to say I love you anyway no matter who you are, here there are hugs, don't screw up your life now, there's a lot of years ahead when you got no choice, don't mess this up, this being young, 'cause then it's over. That’s my hands now. Now there are these ladies that come to me in tears crying. If not for themselves, for what was themselves, for the times when they said I love you, and gossiped about their pretty boys, and took them home, and raised the babies, until the babies weren't cute anymore. Then their pretty boys started trying to look pretty again in forty-year-old bodies pretty much look like they've gone forty years, left them at home, gone to strut around in the suburbs sixty miles away, don't get caught, and now these ladies wishing, I wish I had said something about his hands, maybe he would have used them, made a career or at least made me happy, proud, and then the rivers of sadness on blue church dresses and professional three-piece suits, and eyes that know there is nothing worth having in any man, 'cept maybe his hands, 'cause that other thing only brings pain, and a lifetime of raising boys to be the same old thing poking about in someone else's life no matter how many psych books they write about making something of the sons of the future, hormones got no limits honey. And these hands of mine, once called "nice" hands, make hard circles on their backs, across flesh straining at straps of J.C. Penney bras, maybe fancy ones from Saks, and that's all they have left of trying to be a good wife, these closest things to a gift she can give, these tears that mean different messages to a man depends on where they're falling, and I massage their shoulders, and brush away these wet streaks of life gone awry across cheeks that have seen the same torments and satisfactions as these hands, now so scarred from miles of bobwire, stretching, pulling, stapling, untangling, feuding with acres of brush and prickly pear, hog gashes, antbites, razor blades left in hotel bedsheets, the grab of the raven, black widows, too much sun, holding throbbing temples, splintered selves, crushed hearts, a hand beneath a flipped pickup, a dying baby in the Wal-mart, these hands now so much more with real life than when they were so young and "nice" and maybe not even hands anymore.