i love hands.

they’re often one of the first things that attract me to someone. field’s hands, for example, are cocoa-coloured, with delicately-boned fingers and a small beauty mark beside one nail. he always wears a silver ring on the middle finger of his left hand, but he takes it off on the rare occasions when he uses a pen. i often chalk it up to his intensive tae-kwon-do training, but they often seem like the most expressive, graceful vessels to me. they talk even when i’m sure he’s unaware of it.

banane’s hands are long, and square-shaped, with perpetually bitten finger nails. encrusted with earth from her gardening. she was a gymnast, a varsity volley-ball player, a jazz dancer, a yogini – her palms are muscular and supple, her skin tanned from outdoors. when she came back from ecuador, her hands were purple with eight months of equatorial heat. when she came back from the yukon they looked almost blue from work, and northern exposure.

my hands, both scarred – my left from multiple bicycle accidents, my right from knuckle-biting, barbell-dropping, bathtub faucet scraping. beringed with silver, and on my left middle finger, a moonstone – my personal “wedding” ring. i am fascinated by the differences – how the left hand looks so much younger than the right, how my right is more agile. dirt is always underneath my right fingernails, which are the ones i bite off to trim, not being able to manoeuver nail clippers with my left. i have many lines on my palms; large venusian mounds; blue veins that crawl up from my wrists. i can type sixty words a minute with one, and the other, i affectionately call ‘lucky’.

i love what hands can do. they plant flowers and herbs, cook elaborate meals, birth children. they stroke faces during love making. they hold each other. they translate words from the brain to the page. they press the capture button on cameras. they get covered in chalk. they arch in detailed dance movements. they work out math equations. they bag groceries, grasp dog leashes, stroke cat fur. they get delicate age spots like silverfish swimming up the spines of old books. they hold footballs. they clasp together in prayer. they wipe tears from eyes, or massage headaches from temples.

in our fingers, they hold the designs of who we are, encoded in our own personal spiral map.  

i love hands. the stories they could tell, the secrets they do keep. their calluses, and the places where they have worn smooth. they are stories and birthrights and mysteries unto themselves. some people are born without them, or without the use of them – and so other body parts stand in for them. but they capture a lot of magic.

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