Poem about hands

Hi everyone! I found this poem about hands today, and thought of our AWWG group’s marvelous response to the “describe your hand” prompt. This one isn’t about his hand, I don’t think, but artist’s hands in general. Notice how he moves from the hand’s physical reality to what it does, and then what it has done. And some of the metaphors are marvelous — showing, not telling!

For those of you who weren’t there — try it! For 12 of  us there, we had 12 really different descriptions….

The Artist’s Hand
by D. A. Powell

Nailbeds pink, deeper pink toward the cuticles,
cuticles a little rough, but clean.
Obsessively clean.
A little yellowing under the edges of the nails,
the fingers boney, bowing, and large knuckles
where skin bunches like roses puckered on fabric.
A hand in need of moisturizer.
A sanitized hand. A worried hand? Hands don’t worry.
Spots that change. One that elongates into a question mark.
Well, hasn’t that hand done something?
It is a form of making when it makes.
But mostly the hand is an idle thing
& therefore available for scrutiny
unlike the artist himself, his stillness a form of motion,
intent upon a subject so close to his heart
that he must hold it out, away from all other limbs
and parts of the body, to see it as itself, a hand,
agent of the mind and yet separate from all thought.
All his effort goes into the hand, and through the hand
makes visible the scale of imagination, so that
what’s left is not the hand
but its testament.

About This Poem
“‘The Artist’s Hand’ is a tribute to sculptor Mark di Suvero, whose work may be seen at Chrissy Field in San Francisco and adjacent to AT&T Park.”
–D. A. Powell

2 thoughts on “Poem about hands

  1. skin bunches like roses puckered on fabric
    that’s what I recall from my mother’s hands, and I have it now. It always warms me, as if she were with me.

    a hand, agent of the mind and yet separate from all thought
    what a beautiful observation!


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