What Shall I Do With My Hands?

by Robin Shepard

Human hand, photo by Jeff Hardi
Photo by Jeff Hardi@Unsplash

What shall I do with my hands? Let them hang limp at my side. Fold them crosswise under my arms. Lift them lightly, waist high, palms upturned. Perhaps I’ll let them flutter like birds at the end of my fingers. If I were to give them freedom to choose, would they work for good or do harm? Would they close around the neck of a wounded dove, and would the killing be merciful or cruel? What words can I give my hands in their wrestling with free will? Like a good father I want to protect them but love them enough to let them make their own mistakes. They must earn their scars like tender red trophies. They must learn to get on their knees and pray. I’d like to hold them in my hands, these hands with minds of their own. But it’s their hearts that worry me most, for in the heart of every hand is a wicked, wicked man.

Robin Shepard

Robin Shepard has been variously a teacher, journalist, public information officer, and fundraiser. He's retired from community college administration and spends his time working on cars and fishing, both of which are spiritual pursuits. He earned an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has authored two books: Quiet Stars Falling into Quicksand Memory (2017) and The Restoration of Innocence {2022). His work can be found in MacQueen's Quinterly, Compass Rose Literary Journal, Poetry Super Highway, Rat's Ass Literary Review, Quibble, Ghost City Review, Bombfire, and Beatnik Cowboy. But he's most proud of editing an award-winning Studebaker club newsletter.


2024-Jun-01 18:54

I enjoy the questioning, almost incantatory tone of this piece, that treats hands as separate entities, just as our impious, or profane, impulses at times may be separate from our true selves.

Trilety Wade
2024-Jun-02 03:22

Wow! I think about bodies a lot, and segmentation and compartmentalization, but never have I thought of my hands as a completely different entity that must be nurtured away from whatever the secular call sin.