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Gnarled Hands

A soft, gentle hand grasping my own
Squeezed back memories from long-ago.
The eager first time was delicious.
From a thrill to the "will you?" precious.
Warmth wonderful any minute.
Hands held before a minister.
Gold in unending circles of circles
Slipped easily past beautiful nails.
Hands held in the mountains
Hand tugged to fountains
Hands gently grasped in prayer,
Hands, joined at dinner,

Hands that prepared for parties,
Hands that co-signed legal entities.
Hands that pushed vacuum cleaners,
Hands that learned stick shifters,
Hands that packed and moved,
Hands that did laundry,
Hands that worked jobs sundry,
Hands that rocked babies to trance,
But never hands of malevolence.
Hands that caressed an ill father's face
And finally his cooling hand with grace.
Hands that assisted her mother.
Hands that found her mother's gnarled fingers.

Imagining a prospective bride when old,
The best guide is her mother we're told.
Her mother's hands were gnarled while
Her mother's hands gestured Italian style.
Her mother's busy hands happily prepared meals.
Watching only her hands, one knew the deals,
Gestures of sarcasm, welcoming, comment bland
Emotion in path, fold, and flick of the hand
Gnarled hands expressive with chuckles
But the worn, gnarled knuckles
No longer slipped past the original rings
But with hearty husky voice, she still sings.

Gnarled hands that prepared meals remain soft.
The gnarles still smile, laugh aloft.
Mirroring the intent of a gracious lady.
Gnarles still welcome and hold a grand baby.
The gnarles may distract from rest,
May disrupt sleep, so terribly distressed.
Gnarles alter grabbing knobs for doors,
Slowing and adapting chores;
But though gnarly, they are warm still,
Still soft, still laugh and smile, never shrill:
As soothing as oats and barley,
They are lovably, sweetly, wonderfully gnarly.