These war-torn calloused hands of mine,
scarred and bruised and filled with memories.
That scar on the soft spot of my palm?
Still hurts sometimes, but it brings a smile to my face when I think of the time I got it.
It was on my first job,
cutting hale bale string with that new knife I was so proud of.
The freckles might seem unsightly on the backs of my hands,
but they represent the summer not of a specific year,
but of Absolute Fun.
Catching and throwing and learning and living.
That bump on my finger that grew and receded with the school semesters,
was not a mole or a wart or a fifth finger.
It was my passion for writing coming through
in more ways than words on paper, because that callous spoke for itself.
Those burn marks on the sides of my hands?
That was me learning to bake and cook through trial and error,
each one marking a milestone; when I went too fast to see a mistake in the making,
or when I went too slow cause I was hard pressed to see anything.
See that crooked finger? That’s not just arthritis.
That’s the time I walked my dog to the park day after day,
the only difference between one time and the others
being the time he got scared and ran in the opposite direction of that finger.
The ring that’s become one with my hand after all these years?
I got that one from the love of my life,
on one of the greatest days of my existence.
I’m not ever going to take it off for two reasons: 1. I can’t. 2. I won’t.
Ah, but the hard things too. The shaking tremor. That’s not Parkinson's or frailty.
That’s the time spent on the battlefield, seeing death and making death.
It’s no great coincidence that where there’s the greatest courage there’s also the greatest fear,
fighting for freedom but also to stay alive.
But the hardest things are the things you don’t see on my hands.
When I held a boy who lost his parents- now alone in the world.
Nothing was sufficient, I couldn’t bring them back.
But I held on and told him we’d get through it together.
Amazing how many times I did just that.
Got through life and death embracing the receivers of both.
So many times I hugged myself to contain great joy or to bring comfort to an ache in my heart.
The greatest scar though? Invisible, but it covers more than just my hands.
When I looked down at a little bundle of what was supposed to be joy but was silence instead.
My child. My sweet baby. Gone.
My whole being was scarred from that one.
Now, I look down at my war-torn hands, still here after all they’ve been through.
Translucent and veined, fragile and shaky. They’ve seen better days you might say.
But I wouldn’t. They’ve held me and others too, countless times,
bringing through touch comfort that can’t be brought through words.
Why would I wish for different hands?