My Hands

It’s breakfast time.  I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my boys.  This table, sanded for hours and finished soft and smooth by my hands.  My hands, so rough and worn and weathered. I hold them before me now.  A curious sight.  The most intimate part of me, attached and exposed, in constant use, in constant view.  Tactile, touching, sensing and creating the world around me.

I never saw hands like this when I was growing up except on the very old with a lifetime of stories to share.  I am still constructing my stories.  How will these hands look by the time I am through?

Skin like leather.  Like a sun parched, windswept landscape, rutted with years of scars, deep lines each with a story to tell, from hot New York City dates to high mountain horses bucking.

Hands that have built homes, birthed and buried how many animals, built fences and barns and homes, nurtured trees and gardens and roses in fertile soil, shoveled a mountain of manure and snow and dirt at the ditch, kneaded how many loaves of bread, and remained somehow tender though probably never enough for my husband and the child I’ve raised.

I hold these hands before my face and look at them oddly.  Broad and coarse and unrefined, furrowed with deep lines, drawn over with fine lines, wrinkles earned from years of use.  Not battling the elements, but a part of them. Hands in the world around me. Shaping, building, forming, feeling.

And still a tender touch.  Hands that stroke my dogs’ silky side, rest on my horse’s warm neck, hold my son’s worried or proud hand, touch my husband’s secret soft side.

These are my tools, my livelihood, the lines of my life.  My hands.