Categories
Art Poetry

His Hands

“Daily they carved out a life”

By Br. Tom Giardino, S.M.

I always loved his hands
Especially in the later years —
Holding and being held.

“Lefty” they called him when
young at handball and stickball in Bronx alleys;
Or when bowling as long as I
could remember.
Though short were the days
with classroom-rapped knuckles
for writing in that sinister way,
Later he made it right
Reading the world in
Newspapers, edition upon folded edition,
Drinking in sports’ stats and movie stars
With his daily milk.

I always loved his hands.
Daily they carved out a life
from beef or fish or plentiful poultry
— sometimes lean game
filled the freezer —
He was better than the best for butchers.

And in these special later years
He is not shy or ashamed.
Long we can talk,
his trade-worn fingers
intertwined with mine
as our lives have been.
He is not afraid to tell
me his feelings:
The puzzlements at the pain,
The gentle frustration
when the morning visit,
phone call
or bacon and eggs
Fade faster than the food’s aroma.
Or the brief anguish
When hand-to-pocket finds
no dollars
For paying the barber
I’ve taken him to.

And when I ask him
if his days are
monotonous, he says:
“This is my life now —
You have to be patient.
I have no reason to complain,
I’ve led a full life.”
And I am edified,
hoping those spiritual
genes have been
handed on….

Perhaps most of all
He has revealing hands:
They show me the parental pain
of letting go
What he most wants to
keep close.
How to keep letting go
While always receiving back
with gracious gratitude
— echoed in his lips —
Offering his hands when
needed or wanted
(“a gentleman” the ladies call him).

Through it all
One Lord, one ring
We’ve shared, though diverse
nuptial vows.
From his hand and once-broken heart
I’ve worn that band these many years
in hope of his
fidelity.

I always loved his hands
Especially in the later years

Holding and being held.


Brother Tom Giardino, S.M., a vowed religious Marianist brother, is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a graduate of the University of Dayton. He co-authored the books Shaping the Coming Age of Religious Life and Behind the Camera. In 2011, he published, The Promise and the Path: Starting and Sustaining Marianist Communities.

Image: “Seashell Translations,” watercolor on paper, 7.5 x 5.5″, 2018, Kerry Hugins

Kerry Hugins, a stay-at-home mom and lifelong artist, lives on the edge of the Hill Country in Austin. Her childhood was spent in the cities of Miami, Mexico City, Cape Town and Washington, D.C. The color pairings of native wildflowers she and her daughter find on hikes and imprinted on her memory from childhood in Mexico are reflected in her work.