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My Mother’s Hands

When I was small, I watched my mother’s hands
tying my shoe laces
carving a chicken
putting on a bandage
knitting needles flashing
making tight cross stitches that turned into beautiful things.

When I was a child I played with her hands
like they were toys.
moving her fingers
making shapes
feeling the strength in her fingers.

When I became a mother
I tied my children’s shoes
put bandages on their cuts
cut up chickens
knitted needles moving
but never quite flashing.

My mother taught me to quilt.
Our hands side by side
her hands holding the needle securely
mine struggling.
The bones of our hands were the same.
The skin showed our ages.

Now I sit in a hospital and hold my mother’s hands.
Right hand constantly moving
from the Parkinson’s that stole from her
even while it prompted the test that found the cancer
while it was still so small
that surgery was enough,
no radiation, no chemo therapy.

We walk in the hall and her hand, small, soft, frail
rests on my arm.
I keep her steady.
She says I can have her quilting frames.
Maybe we will send the cross-stitch frames to my sister.
I look at all the beautiful things she has made
knowing there will be no more
knowing she will live.


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