THE WOUNDED HANDS

THE WOUNDED HANDS

Yo no quiero más que una mano,
una mano herida, si es posible.

 …a Spanish princess, who, when she grew oldand wizened,
allowed the court painter,
the official artist of the realm, to capture on canvas
only her hands, which had remained tender, unblistered,
unblemished – the reminder and sign of her
original personality…

I
When will I see your hands? she asked her mother.
Not now, not yet.
I’ve worn these gloves
since the fire that widowed me

singed them, almost consumed them.
I don’t know if you could stand
the sight,
the terrible scarring from the flames.

Her daughter still entreated her,
Let me see your secret hands.
No one she knew
had ever seen them.

Always her mother replied,
Not now, not yet.
But when, her daugther asked,
when will I be ready?

When you are inflamed by love,
someday,
then I’ll show you,
but not until you love truly.

II
The girl grew, until
she met a man,
after many boys,
who sparked wonders in her.

They made each other new
every day, discovering
the taste and touch
beyond society.

I’m ready to see
your hands.
I’m ready
because of love.

Her mother, pale, wrinkled,
tired, thin,
sighed to see the ache
in her daughter’s face.

Prepare yourself,
she said.
Sit
near me.

Slowly her mother removed
one glove, then
the other, and revealed
white immaculate hands.

The two shuddered
at their otherworldly beauty,
the still youthful hands
that could mold generations.

So you see,
she said, turning them
as if they were a fugitive
mirage,

why I can never,
and must never,
show them
to anyone else.

Few could bear
such grace.
Few could bear the tragedy
of such a vision.

“The Unsaid Passing” BW Powe (Guernica) 2005
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