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These Hands – A Personal Essay

We’d like to introduce a new category of writing from our leading Art contributor Bono IV. Let us know what you think in the comments or by email. Thank you all and hope to see you again, your support is very much appreciated.

From the team at BSW

The lunula on each of my fingers extends deep into the nail, like a miniature mountain, opaque and crescent shaped. She shows me her own moons lying upon the bed, they’re all but invisible on the slips of small fingertips. Her hands are warm in my grasp, delicate and marble. Our palms press together until the clamminess and heat becomes a bit too much to bear and someone is forced to pull their grip away. Even the most affectionate gesture is subject to the awkward functions of the human body.

I’ve got hands from the city, I’ve got hands for the city, they’re nimble and fragile and spindly like a pianist. My father’s hands are callused and rugged from years of physical labour. My mother’s hands are gentle.

Sometimes my skin peels and blanches from the hours of dish work in the weekend, sometimes my knuckles spit and moan when pushed too hard for too long. My middle finger on the left is permanently crooked from the time it snapped in two, if you look close enough you can see it still hangs out of place. My mother’s hands are gentle.

These hands have become fists which have been thrown in anger on a Friday night, these hands have been the pillars which ushered a sickly family cat to sleep. These hands have fished dead butterflies from my stomach and drowned surviving caterpillars in a sea of gin.These hands have held your head between them, These hands try to be gentle.

When I was younger I tried to use my pocket knife to whittle a piece of wood into shape, I was going against the grain and the blade slipped, cutting my thumb. Dad was indignant I wouldn’t need stitches, the local scoutmaster disagreed. The scar winks at me every time I turn a page.

These hands could never catch a cricket ball, no matter how much I concentrated.

One night I felt so nauseous that I couldn’t think properly, I went around the room grasping for something to hold onto, like a drowning sailor pawing for air, hands physically shaking.

I calmed down and found relief after a while. The tremors like little aftershocks would haunt me for days later.

Her hands are constantly warm, they hungrily eat up the room’s heat. Mine succumb to bad weather, early mornings and night chills within minutes. These hands feel the cold. These hands know the cold, my hands are cold.

These hands fit firmly around the steering wheel, just enough to drive the car.

These hands slip into hers, not like a jigsaw piece but like a heel into wet sand.

These hands have locked like a vice grip around your throat.

These hands have held your head between them.

These hands try to be gentle.

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