my mother’s hands: the trouble with carrying white buckets

October 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

(Mom with Allen Ginsberg)

My mother always carried the buckets in her left hand.  They were heavy and she had a bad hip.  She slipped on the ice when she was pregnant with me—when my brother was three and always running away.  We will sell the sheep when her hands are tired.  They are cracked now.  They don’t look the same. They look like she’s been washing the dishes for fifty years and it’s always December.

There will come a time when she is too weak to bring the sheep their water.  The white buckets too heavy to carry.  The cracks in her hands will bleed.  They will lose their grip on the bucket.  When she holds my hand she squeezes my fingers into the indents in her thumb like she wants me to know she’s older now.  That she will die.  I pinch her cracked thumb to make sure she can still feel me. I run my index finger along her palm as if to say, I remember when your hands were soft and smooth.  As if to say, I am sorry I am still so young.  She is in Nicaragua now and her hands hold the plates of rice and beans she will feed her patients.

I don’t want my mother to get old.  I am afraid she will ask me to brush her hair because she’s too weak—because the cracks in her fingers are bleeding.  I don’t want to brush her hair because I am afraid I might brush too hard.  She always brushed my hair very gently.  I don’t want to lose my mother.  I don’t want the pain.  I want Maine, New Hampshire.  The way Donald Hall had Jane Kenyon before they flew to Minneapolis.  I want my mother.  My mother smells like Rain from Kingfield.  I don’t want to cry hard, like when my father lost June Jordan to cancer.

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