Their Hands Tell More Than Their Eyes (i) – (xvi) complete


She read her first hands.

Small, spatula shaped.

Stumpy fingers.

Not large enough to be manual.

Not thin enough to be artistic.

Wanted to be a true reflection

of others, but his surface

held too many imperfections.

His eyes were blank spheres,

his conflict in his palms.

He would lie to her.

Keep things to himself.

He gave her doubt.


Another’s Long tender digits play timpani

between her legs. Their slender


works a flood within her.

As they helter skelter

spirals from tip to base

on each of her breasts

she loses control when

they are half way down

the slide and she flies.

His tongue: a ninth finger,

touch types her labia

so she breathes glossolalia

with her ninth finger.

He made her feel good


Another: more fish than man.

His skin has scales

between his fingers,

at their base

a thin film to make

any swim easier.

His imagination is a fish bladder.

He swerves over her coral.

She saw another way to live.


She examines her hands in awe,

as if newly discovered.

Amazed they belong to her,

and that she controls them.

Curls each finger, notes

how each joint works.

Finger of one hand follows

the lines of the other

as if to remap, retraverse

the landscapes of age.

She let her know what was to come.


In the purple blossom

of her bruises

she traces the shape

of his knuckles.

Cries at the glad fall

into the gentle browns

of his eyes, strength

of his black hair.

She learns how to leave,

how to say “no”.


His wife has chocolate fingers,

dark and sweet,

inhale bubblegum

from the tips,

pink wafer nails,

taste of red fruit wine.

A taste that doesn’t cloy,

not syrupy or over sugared.

This woman knows how to work her fingers


Daddy God finger, abuse finger, where are you?

Here I am, here I am, let me do you, let me do you.

Mummy Mary finger, let him finger, where are you?

Here I am, here I am. Let him do you. Let him do you.

Brother finger, Cain finger, where are you?

Here I am, Here I am, ready to kill, ready to kill.

Sister finger, Mercy finger, where are you?.

Here I am, Here I am, Pray to you, pray to you.

Baby finger, Jesus finger, where are you?

Here I am, here I am. Killed for you, killed for you.

Graspy thumb, toolly thumb, where are you?

Here I am. Here I am. Work for you, work for you.


Tiny lamb’s hooves gain purchase

in the grooves of gust worn cracks

beneath a looming ancient stone crag.

Little fingers like young stones caught ,

in the raked valleys of a Zen garden,

a tiny baby grasps Dad’s finger base ,

cranes eyes to the precipice edge ,

the furrowed horizon of skin.


Her hand is a military formation.

Four sharp spears stand upright,

or stab forward,

or curl with the thumb

into a bony shield,

of knuckles.

Too much like his.


His loam palms,

carrot fingers,

parsnip thumbs,

bring harvest

over our threshold.



His butter fingers

massage themselves

into her body

until he is no more

and she glows

with oil of him.

He makes her shine.


“Best left till late in life.”

He says “So many nerve

endings when you get it done.

And near the knuckle

for other folk as you can’t

really keep them hid.”

Wide awake turquoise eyes

of his late wife, one

per hand follow me

round the room.

“She was always one

for eyeing up other blokes.”

he says.


Twenty canvasses of your own.

Each nail is a canvas.

Even two year olds daub

them with a tiny brush.

On every high street two or three

businesses compete cuticles.

No airheads chewing gum,

buffing nails and passing calls.

Operating theatre masks,

nail drying machines by their side.

French or gel.

Indulged luxury in austerity.

At home sisters bond and learn

techniques of togetherness.

If you do mine, I’ll do yours.

Choose colour or tattoo.

Delicacy of touch and focus.

Mindfulness colouring book.

Pampered by laughter

and forgetting.


Nanna has no time for nails.

Forever pegs out on washing,

Her hands turn, twist,

push and pull, grind and grist,

make meals, scrub thresholds.

poss dirt, brush soot, polish tiles,

learn to live with bruises, blebs,

blisters, blemishes, bleeds,

mangle water, wring an easier

going on until convenience saves time.





Grandad’s hands are made

of coal dust, and steel shavings.

Layers of ancient trees, molten

pig runs through his veins.

Lathe turned, tool maker palms

cradle call centre headset

in environmentally controlled

warehouse where he negotiates

customer complaints while

his hands grow soft his brain
works out, solution led,

business aligned conundrums.

Learn to read your own hands.

Family history in fingerprint ridges.

Smell yesterdays meals, how

seasons of heat and cold ingrain

in lines like longitude and latitude.

Like rocks weathered by smoke,

yellowed by tobacco stains, reddened

by beetroot, oranged by carrots

Blue black pen stain from school.

Scars of damage with stories attached.
You must use your eyes to see

your hands tell more than your eyes.

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