Reshaping the World
Those hands can bring cheese-curds from warm milk,
rocking horses out of straight pieces of birch-wood,
and strong yellow notes from a cold brass trumpet.
I have watched those hands
turn silver knitting needles through fine white thread
night by night until it became a lace table covering,
watched them swirl dark lead into smooth lines of cursive,
and fold over tiny fingers just learning to shape letters.
They have patted small backs and given comfort
with the rhythm of rocker and song and heartbeat,
and have brushed back the hair from flu-sticky faces,
administering water and clean rags and pepto-bismol.
I’ve seen those fingers curve around long screwdrivers
and heavy-headed hammers and sharp splitting-mauls
and cross-shaped tire wrenches, wielding them well;
seen them twist and form fishbone braids,
and loaves of dark wheat bread on the table,
and thick fir branches into a Christmas circle.
They’ve been splashed and spattered with blood,
I’ve seen those hands torn by barbed-wire,
seen her knuckles scraped helping Dad under the hood,
seen her skin crack in the dry, bitter cold of January.
I have watched those hands move to marvel and give again
when the newborn baby was set at her side
after a night-long labor, never flinching from the stain
of dark red that is life.