Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Wakowski's Hands

Found this wonderful tribute from Diane Wakowski this morning. She's mellowed since I last read one of her poems.

Ode To My Hands

“Beauty is momentary in the mind – The fitful tracing of a portal; But in the flesh it is immortal.”
(Wallace Stevens from “Peter Quince At The Clavier”)

Some times I think my old
hands are beautiful
like Arabians nuzzled into Kentucky bluegrass,
their coats with the satin of chestnuts before they
are roasted. My hands, though,
are spotted, more like giraffe skin,
and lying across my book,
as if they might be
newborn, awkward foals,
not able to be deft with small pieces,
like the backs of my pearl earring studs.
Babies, looking up but resting
against their mother book.

My handwriting gets smaller and
harder to read. These spotted translucent hands seem
too plump to write a thin line. They
do look like miniature hens,
pale frogs, or shaky legged colts
as they rest on pages of Wallace Stevens or
on my denim knees -- still they cleave
to my body, though it hardly seems to belong
to me any more. My mind curls also,
like the giraffe’s lashes,
fringed petal-like and so inappropriately, as if
for Romance, as do my old hands.

In T’ai Chi, you are supposed to hold out
“beautiful lady wrists,” and as I was circling through the form
this morning, piercing into my living room windows came
a shaft of light that exactly passed into my undulating
hands, a pen of light dipped into its own ink, and I
pulled it through the air, knowing for a moment that despite my age,
I still could reinvent myself, perhaps even still write this ode
with the hands
that have always longed to play at
Peter Quince’s clavier.

Poetry Southeast - Summer 2006

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