Hand To Hand

Hand To Hand

David Bryen



I study my hands

 and recall my father’s middle finger,

 severed at the first knuckle by a meat grinder.

 I always wondered what he felt

 and what he did with the hamburger.

 I remember the smooth rounded top,

 like a bald head,

 and wonder now – though I did not then,

 how it would have felt

 to hold that finger in my small hand.



I remember when my son,

 while kneading the huge lawn mower scar on my hand,

 announced how much he wanted his own scar.



When a youthful misadventure with a hot glue gun

 branded a crescent moon on his hand

 I wondered if it was the first and mandatory wound

 on his journey to manhood,

 for without the wound, the hand of a boy

never grows into the hand of a man.



Now I grasp his labor-roughened ham-like hand and

 feel some of the masculine he has earned;

 the near miss with a worm drive circular saw,

 bruising the bone but sparing the thumb.

 I massage my own hands that built our lake cabin:

 the never-healed hangnail

 from the drill that slipped and drilled through my fingernail.

 and how I screamed while my family winced helplessly.



I wish I had caressed Dad’s smooth, rounded stub

 and explored the wonder of new skin

 that had so replaced the old that no scar appeared.

 I wish I knew the place whence


the new skin came to cover the naked bone.

 I wish I had asked him if he ever healed.

 I wish he had let me touch his wound.

 I wish I had wrapped my small hand

 around that shortened end

 and felt his pain.



Because I didn’t know how to ask then

 I think I bear it for him still.



For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

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