My Mother’s Hands

Her hands are not unlike mine. We share the same nailbeds, which is to say, we both have claws. But I’ve never seen her grow them out. Perhaps, she too, notices how brittle they get when we let them grow, how easy it becomes for them to break. More often than not, our nails are kept, trimmed short- she never fails to tell me how beautiful my nails look when they reach full potential. Neither of us bother with polish- we know our hands cannot hold onto something as fleeting as color. We work hard to keep calluses from forming- we take pride in our soft hands, our smooth skin, a regimen of street maintenance: sealing our pavement cracks with vaseline and shea butter- trying to keep the damage at a minimum.

But my hands have grown distant. Started forming their own heartline, new small fissures growing from my epidermis, the tectonics of my hand shifting into new land. It sounds almost pretty, put like that. No one tells you how violent the quakes get, the tremors that pass through your fingertips with no epicenter to determine its origin but a misplaced sense of pride. No one tells you how the lifeline crashes into the plains across my palm, pushing dead cells upward, creating a mountain range of past mistakes and valleys of doubt intersecting every available direction, pulling my skin apart at its seams and stitching it back together in new patterns.

My mother’s hands must have gone through a change like this. I wonder how she kept them so soft. Her hands are too clinical to cling to a notion of earth. They has been eroded by soap and water, taking any and all effort to stay sanitized and kept sterile. Did she wash away her fate line? It is barely noticeable on the heartland of her hand. It worries me, what she gave up to stay alive. Will my fate line follow hers? I don’t believe so, but our hands can tell us so much. Her hand tells me of the determination we share. Her hands tell me the lengths we go to keep up appearances. Her hands tell me how tired she is. Her hands tell me how she doesn’t stop. And they stay so soft.

I want my hands to stay soft. I want to be able to achieve this without moving mountains. I want my hands to remind me of what I have survived.  


2 Comments Add yours

  1. deviantdear says:

    I enjoyed how you compared your hands to your mothers, what is different what is the same, showing through them what lessons you learned from your mothers experiences rather than telling but I feel this is also a piece you could dig deeper. I need to work on the same thing!


  2. ariburford says:

    Every word you write here is so carefully chosen and the sentences flow so well. I feel held by your words. The details you use are poetic and I feel them in my body. Your line: “a regimen of street maintenance: sealing our pavement cracks with vaseline and shea butter- trying to keep the damage at a minimum” is an example of that. You could try taking that metaphor further…develop it.

    I think you have the stuff that you could use to write several chapters in here. Take the last three sentences that were like OMG FUCK! put them at the top of the page. Start writing. When you do here’s an idea to try. Try to let go of control. See what comes up without censoring it or making sure it all sounds together and fluid. Just a though you can take it or leave it. I think it could peel back so much more there.

    As I read this piece I wanted a scene to ground me in the quakes of your hands. Beautiful art illustration for this piece by the way wow!! THe reason I wanted a scene was so it would let me in more and ground me in a moment in your life. What is it like when your hands tremble and quake? Where were you when this last happened? What were the circumstances? What were the triggers? What didyou do say think feel taste smell and touch?

    I hope you write more about this. THere is so much here!

    Thank you for sharing this. ANd let me know if you wanna talk more.

    Dr. Ari


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