Your Hands Are Not Still

Posted: March 15, 2016 in thought stream

at we are looking at hands – and writing something about them. This is a poem about my mother shortly before she passed away a few years ago. I also use the technique where the title is also the first line of the poem.

Unlike the rest of you.
They constantly twitch and ripple.
Your fingers are not frantic, but urgent,
grasping and letting go of the bed sheet.

As if it’s a shoreline lapping at your chest.
As if it’s the edge of an ocean.
As if beyond it is a normal life you
are desperate to reach.

This place is cathedral quiet,
broken occasionally by machines
breathing with ticks and bleeps. But
it does not bring you calm.

That bird-like alertness through which
you measured life is completely dulled.
Your eyes are bemused.
Your body is still.

Just those hands working away
as if they alone can free you
from a place that is neither
prison nor sanctuary.

  1. This is heartwrenching.. so vivid to see those hands, and even if you don’t write it, I can smell the sting of hospital air.. a very good poem Paul

  2. Glenn Buttkus says:

    Death watches are heart-wrenching, & many of us boomers are losing our aged parents, as they climb into their 80’s & 90’s. This piece is so vivid, yet handled poetically & sensitively; kudos.

  3. seingraham says:

    You are new to me, and yet – we were being led by the same circumstances to write our poems … at least, close enough. I really love what you’ve done here. As Glenn has said – we’re getting to that age and it’s sad and hard to look at both … I found the last couple of months particularly hard when so many celebrities of a certain age seemed to be dying, one after the other. As the saying goes, “life ain’t an easy gig” – indeed. Really great poem – I can picture your mother’s hands easily.

  4. whimsygizmo says:

    This touched me deeply. Especially that second stanza…those are the places I will long for, when the dying hands are mine.

  5. Aria says:

    This is outstanding poetry.

  6. A very sad memory and it pours into your words so vividly. The focus on your mother’s hands is very effective.

  7. Grace says:

    Neither prison nor sanctuary ~ That is a powerful close to a heart tugging share ~ This part really broke my heart:

    As if it’s a shoreline lapping at your chest.
    As if it’s the edge of an ocean.
    As if beyond it is a normal life you
    are desperate to reach.

    Amazing share, thanks ~

  8. This is such a powerful, beautiful poem. Full of sadness but also great love. I mainly really admire that image of the hands as reaching out to something… trying to pull it close. Wonderful job here.

  9. I’m so touched by this….
    it made me think of my mother

  10. Sanaa Rizvi says:

    This is such a powerful write!

  11. The struggle to find that place! Peace lies in these words. Well expressed.

  12. You brought us right into the room with you. This is touching and so sad. It portrays being on the precipice of a great loss quite well. Peace, Linda

  13. Bodhirose says:

    Your observations of your mother’s hands before her death are tender and sensitive and yet somehow told from a very clear viewpoint without overt emotional attachment to the scene before you. I admire your courage to sit with that…if you know what I mean.
    Gayle ~

  14. kim881 says:

    Totally heart-wrenching. A brave and beautiful poem. I love the phrases ‘cathedral quiet’ and ‘breathing with clicks and bleeps’.

  15. ShirleyB says:

    I have experienced this scenario. Your poem is exquisitely sad and so skilfully penned.

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