Grandma's Hands

These are the hands
always holding each other.
Folding and unfolding
in each other's palm --
a white hair, a story, or a twig.

Like the life lines
twined and untwined --
Always a secret
written between
the right palm and the left palm.

These are the hands
That said, How cold !
And cupped my hands
when I shivered.

These hands are made of bones
attached to the skins --
filled with dishes, wrinkles, and other hands.
These hands
scrub the floor, wipe our tears, and hold a prayer.

Time and time
again the hands say,
I will let you go.
And then remind me,
Don't turn your head.
Each time
the hands hold me closer
by letting go.

These are the hands
visible and invisible
which connect
a distance
between a small room on Long Island and a grave
in Hong Kong.

These hands reach out from
the breeze

to touch me
without asking.

These hands reached out from
a bed
in an I.C.U.
and said, Go home, you are hungry.

I asked the hands,
Don't you want me to stay with you ?
The hands were in silence.

One evening, I heard the hands
murmur in a dream
Ah mo ! Ah mo !

I asked,
What is it ?
My mother said,
This is how your grandma calls her mother.
1988, Long Island, New York

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