my mother’s hands


these hands are digging hands
guiding hands
these hands,
my mother’s hands

dig you open and take out the rot.
the putrid dark earth you let her touch,
in handfuls, nailfuls, great gaping armfuls

she lifts.
your rot
and shows you,
and shows you it was put in the wrong place to begin with,
and shows you that
your body,
your body is not a burial ground
a trash can or container.

and guides you.
and guides to see that
by nature as humans
by nature as humans we are empathic
we absorb.
they touch your face gently.
her hands touch your face gently.
left, then right.
left then right she touches your face as if to say, stop.

my dear you are a sponge but you were not built to be a container,
there is no room for that rot here.
let it pass through,
your emotions are not yours do not let them stay.

now look at your hands.
now look at your hands she says.
your trembling white hands.
these are your digging hands so lift the rot away
these hands are yours but the rotting thoughts are visitors do not let them stay.

but you find room don’t you?
beneath a blackened nail,
under your chin
the rot needed a house and your hands let it in.

they knock
you open
we rot.


Artwork: The Manger (Ideal Motherhood) – Gertrude Käsebier