A father’s hand.
A father’s hand is meant
To cradle, to rock, to support,
To pat backs, to push bicycles along paths,
To ruffle hair, to caress cheeks, to tickle ribs and feet,
To turn pages, to model the use of pencils and pocket knives,
To redirect the lost, to lift up the fallen, to hold the frightened,
To comfort the saddened, to shine light into dark corners and closets.
So when a father’s hand closes,
Conceals the soft palm with digging nails,
Exposes only hard, wrinkled, cracked,
Cracking knuckles, tightly wrapped bone, veins pulsing
with raging adrenaline, tiny tangled hairs,
It changes things
Though you don’t know where it comes from,
You feel the anger seeping from his heart,
You feel the frustration flowing from his mind,
You feel the hatred in his eyes
Converted by some fantastical feat of physics into force,
Applied to your patted back, your caressed cheeks, your tickled ribs,
You feel his fear of inadequacy, you feel his father’s hands,
Until you’re lost and fallen
Until you’re frightened and saddened
Until you seek dark corners and closets for comfort
Until you look down one day and realize that his hands are now yours.
His hands have molded you, have pointed you down paths,
Have modeled forceful responses to frustration, to anger, to hatred, to fear
So, how do you pat the backs, push the bikes, tussle the hair, tickle the feet,
Without passing all of that along,
Without handing your father’s and his father’s
And his father’s and his father’s hands
Down into the hands of your future grandchildren’s father?
I sure don’t know, but god damn it,