On Hands

I knew a boy with wooden beads who told me that he loved my hands. He noticed them first about me. You can tell a lot about somebody by their hands, he said. He told me mine were beautiful.

His were big and rough. The fingernails were dirty. But his hands were magic.

There's only one girl who has hands like mine. The same size. We laugh about being hand soul-mates over vegan pizza after a joint. It's late. We clean beer bottles off the floor before the parents get home. Our friend is passed out on the couch. Lock the doors so nobody comes back.

We are nothing alike, me and this girl. But our hands. They are both a little small. The exact same size. But they know many different things.

Her hands know the songs of pounding. Sticks in her hands she can make whirlwinds of sound. They wave around full of beauty amid grime. Striking beauty into the air. Sometimes foul beauty. But beauty nonetheless. Her hands are sweat. And sticky stiff, spiking up her Mohawk. Her hands know androgyny. They know what it is like to be outnumbered by the rest of your body. Outsized.

They have touched many things. Mind altering things. Things that make her head bleed from the inside. And little pills. They have been pricked.

I worry about her hands. And what they have touched. They need to be caressed. She needs to have the knots stroked out of her hands.

They need to know they are beautiful. Because I don't think anyone has ever told her that.

My hands are very different.

Mine are chipped nail polish. Silver rings from the market. Guitar calluses. Sad fingers. Fingers that love the feel of things. Bending things. Sculpting things. Making things. Writing things.

Hands that love the feel of other people but are ashamed of who they've touched. They want to wash themselves forever.

They once hated contact. With anything. People. Door handles. Anything they didn't belong too. They were scared. Clean. Must be clean. Wash.

Must not touch.

Wash again.

My hands have fought away others. Strange hands in the wrong places. But when it really mattered they did not move.

My hands have scratched their own arms. Scratched until they were sticky with blood. They have touched black tears. Faces. Hair.

But the boy with the wooden beads held my hands. He touched them with his. I do not know the story of his hands I only know they are part of the story of mine.

He used his hands, his finger magic. He swept them over mine. Worked out the knots. The sobs. The invisible grime.

Then they were alone. They had touched nothing.

And they were air.