The Hardest Things to Hold

by Yvonne Osborne

A quarter of the body’s bones are in the hands—
before the Serbian, Tesla, discovered alternating current
only to die broke and alone, grandma whipped
egg whites into peaks, eroding the edge
of the cake spoon we all covet.

The surgeon with his jeweler’s loupe
untangles the ganglion sac
wrapped around the writer’s wrist
bulging the palm to enslave the thumb
without which the hand becomes a club.

The musician tapes a sheaf of gauze
around each finger and cradles the neck
of the Gibson in the crook of his arm.
The quivering strings made by the Kalamazoo Girls
of WWII hold a note beyond its value
as the hunter hidden in his blind rests his weapon on the sill,

a breath, a pause, like notes on high,
the staccato blast of a trigger pull.
Steam releases from the kill
behind the barn where the farmer’s son
lost two fingers from off his hand
but can still calibrate a sparkplug with a dime.

The hospital cut my mother’s ring off her finger
and put it in an envelope with her name on it
as her granddaughter holds her left hand perfectly still
and draws it with her right. The teeth that fall
out of her great grandmother’s mouth in a dream
are in the center of the palm.
The hardest things to draw are hands.

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