My Hands Have Changed

My hands have changed.
They are not the expressions of me that once were ornamental.
No longer lovely reflections of my daily habit:
a manifestation perhaps of something else.

These hands were happy to create imperfect watercolor landscapes
on the backs of paper bags, a little girl dipping
brushes into Daddy's coffee cup.

These once dimpled fingers
navigated the mystery of my mother's hair.
My little hands were swallowed up by Daddy's
much larger, calloused ones,
grimacing at the feel.

I have spent many fueled hours in
contemplation of shapely nails, mended with
Crazy Glue,
carefully mended. "A ladies' hands reveal her habits,"
my Mother's eternal lecture drumming incessantly.
For me they made perfect camouflage.

Now my hands are quite unlovely,
years of ammonia and bleach took their toll.
My hands have changed,
they have built a home,
they can tear all manner of vegetable.

They are strong now - no longer lovely, yet
beautiful beyond words.
Older than they should be, perhaps, wrinkled from worry,
but they are mine.
I often marvel at their wisdom.
My hands tell a story,
a roadmap of my life, beginning to end,
as it should be.
They carry more than they should,
however capable.  

~~Catherine Gainey

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