Holding Hands

I was a junior in college when I heard the line “hard work hands hold the best.” I was in Prof. Ed Hoeppner’s poetry workshop, and as much as I can remember about the course, I can’t remember the name of the poet that wrote that brilliant line. I can describe her though, so I guess that’s something. I even think she was wearing a dark blue shirt when she read it in class. 

All of the men I have ever loved, my husband, my father, and my grandfather, have had hard work hands. 

But most importantly:

My husband– his hands envelop mine and make my already tiny fingers look like baby carrot sized versions of themselves. He holds my hand with a protective grip but not a possessive one. I am supported not restricted. His hands lift me up when I can’t reach, open things that my hands refuse to, and they give me assistance when I insist I don’t need it.

His hands have held mine as I’ve cried. When we thought I was in the process of getting an MS diagnosis. When my beloved, and only living, grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. When a dear friend passed away too soon.

His hands gripped mine when my diagnosis was false. When my grandfather went into remission. When I silently prayed for my friend as I watched a reminder of her just last month. 

His hands high fived mine when I got the job I wanted at the university I love. They clapped for me after I read my writing out loud and in public for the first time. 

His hands are strong because they are brave. His hands are not a cliche. My husband’s hands have seen war in the most literal sense of the word.  

They are the hands I have built, am building, a life with. The hands I reach for and the ones I trust. 

Writer Sarah Key says, “some people read Palma to tell your future, but I read hands to tell your past. Each scar marks a story worth telling. Each callused palm, each cracked knuckle is a missed punch or years in a factory.” And while this is eloquent, a young poet says it simply. Hard wok hands hold the best.

I look at one of my favorite wedding pictures and think of the poem that one of my best friends read at my wedding. “I Carry Your Heart” by E.E. Cummings. 

This poem. Its relevance to our story. And hands. 

What do I carry things with?

My own hard work hands.

My own poetic heart. 

Photo by Jen Taylor Photigraphy


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