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When did I stop thinking about my hands? I used to gaze over my hands with petal-fingers at the end of a port de bras, dancing. I wrote about how my hands are my mother’s hands, long-fingered and veiny, when my grief for her was fresh. A mother, myself, I watched my hands hold infant sons–one arm a sling, one hand cupping the back of a downy-soft head. Then I made a church and steeple of my hands for the toddler boys who needed entertainment in the pew. “And here’s all the people,” I would whisper, wiggling my fingers.

Mostly now, my hands are tools to get my thoughts on the page, tools to turn a page, to scroll and swipe. But I don’t think of them much. I think of my knee that grinds, my ankles that pop. I think of my hips, which sometimes hurt, and which I baby. I am pillow-between-my-knees-as-I-sleep years old.

Maybe I’m thinking more about my hands now because I’m washing them so much. This morning, my dad called to tell me that a bit of dish-washing liquid and water works in the foaming hand-soap dispensers. Just in case. We are all worrying over hand hygiene now. Do we glove-up or not? Wash, dry, repeat. Palmolive, he said. And I thought of those old commercials. “Soft on hands.” Palmolive was my mother’s dish-washing liquid.

Remember the George-as-a-hand-model episode of Seinfeld?

What’s the sound of one hand clapping? That’s from a Zen koan or philosophical riddle and is also a line from one of Van Morrison’s songs I like to sing. I neither chop wood nor carry water with my hands, but maybe I should.

This morning, over English muffins, my boys and I prayed a special one for Holy Thursday. I took little notice over how my pair of hands fits so neatly together in prayer, fingers interlocked. It took a pandemic for me to stop biting my fingernails–I’ve noticed that.

Then, beginning my writing day, I flipped through poet Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, which I highly recommend whether you think you like poetry or not. I came to his “ode to drinking water from my hands,” which you can read in its entirety here at poems.com. (Or just buy the book to hold in your hands.)

As Gay’s poem begins in a garden, you won’t be surprised that, today, the first day of the Triduum, I had in mind another garden, the Garden of Gesthemene. Maybe Gay did, too. And maybe this small snippet will quench your poetic thirst and make you consider your own pair of hands, as I am now.

and I drink / to the bottom of my fountain / and join him / in his work.

From “an ode to drinking water from my hands” by Ross Gay

I’m chronicling our isolation with the help of WordPress Discover Prompts. This post was in response to Discover’s daily prompt: Pairs. Care to join in? Read others’ responses here. My other Prompts responses:

Like what you read? Check out my categories above, with author and photographer interviews, essays, stories, book reviews, writing advice, and more.

24 thoughts on “A pair of hands: Discover Prompts, Day 9

  1. Beautiful reflection. Thanks for sharing.
    Side note: Funny thing is that I filled my hand soap dispensers with my Palmolive “free and clear” for the same reason – tough on grease, soft on hands. LOL
    “Beneath a coronavirus’s pronged exterior lies a round core shrouded in proteins and a “greasy” membrane, Jan Carette, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, told Live Science in an email.” from Live Science.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An enjoyable read. I find it fitting that you would end on the topic of gardening because I believe that gardening or “hands in the dirt” is a very healthy and therapeutic activity. Be well and breath deep.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading–and I agree (and should garden more, myself)! I think you’d love Ross Gay’s book of poems, especially for the gardening bits. In addition to being a poet and teacher, he is an orchardist and founder (I believe) of the Bloomington Community Orchard in Indiana. Take care!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. We seem to notice what is calling for our attention i.e. creaking knees, sore feet more than what is just “doing the job”. Our hands do so much – give and receive and how we take them for granted. I think holding your infant son is one of the incredible things our hands do. Will check the prompts out

    Liked by 1 person

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