My Mother’s hands

It was the last I remember
Of her, my mother’s hands

They were hands of a lady
Creamed and polished
Nails filed into the perfect shape
Skin soft but cold
Bones rigid
A blue tinge appearing in the dim light

Lovely hands
That once rolled dough

They were strong hands
Rosie the Riveter hands
Scrubbing spark-plugs
For the boys overseas

Keen hands of the packinghouse,
Cutting meat, pushing fat
But not onto her plate

And patient hands
Swinging a jump rope
The other end tied to the stove handle
Me jumping in between

Lovely hands
That once rolled dough

For potica
That made mouths water
In the town
Home to Polacks and Slavs
Russians and Germans

If there was a contest,
A prize for the best,
Annette would win
Hands down
Each holiday promised
Another perfect creation
Visitor after visitor
Hoping to arrive at
The exact moment
When the potica made its appearance

They were not weak hands
Fine lady hands lathered in creams
Sparkling with polish
They were hands that
Made sense of the world

The last time I saw
Her hands
In the cool dark room
Three of us around the gurney
Her long, slender fingers
Nails filed to perfection

Lovely hands
That once rolled dough

Author’s Note:

Today we had brunch at Wednesday Afternoon Writers.  Diane suggested we bring something for show-and-tell. Something old that someone wrote like a recipe or a letter.

Diane brought a lovely album that her grandmother made with a list of what ladies should do. Inside were carefully cut samples of cloth and pattern pictures and examples of sewing and handiwork. It was charming and took us back to times gone by. Diane wrote a modern-day list of what boys should expect if they wear their pants under their bums. Hopefully, she’ll post the two lists together.

Sheila told the story of when she was ten and found some hidden love letters between her parents. She needs to finish this story. It is an important story to be shared.

Niki brought a legal note her daughter Kathleen found in an old sewing chest. However, it was the note about the milk scribbled on the back of the envelope that gave Niki her story. She, too, needs to finish. It’s lovely.

Sandy isn’t leaving the classroom behind. She shared gifts from students and colleagues she’s gathered over the years. However, Sandy’s story was inspired by Sheila’s background and, just maybe, a little bit from Fiddler On The Roof. It was delightful.

The seed of my poem came from my mother’s four page, front and back, handwritten recipe of her famous potica. It was actually my father’s mother’s recipe, but my mom perfected it. We talked about how I never made it by myself with her when she was alive. Now dad helps me make it. One of the hardest things to do is to roll the dough thin enough without breaking it. And this led me to my poem.

If you would like to read the other pieces, please visit Wednesday Afternoon Writers Facebook page.


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