I look to my hands, and remember when they were small.

When they first changed, the palms thickening and spreading, the tight spring of fingertips curling over, newly bony knuckles revealing tendons too tight and fragile.

Slice peppers, peel oranges, untangle the small chains my father could not, tie double, triple knots, rinse thin champagne flutes, twist hair up and pin it as decorously as I can manage.

The bone at the wrist that I started to look to when I look at boys, hands that are not as graceful as mine but that feel so good when they are at my waist.

My wrists start to ache when the rains come.

Shake them as I walk, let the weight of the fingers stretch the veins and the muscles woven in between into something that is not as painful.

Too stiff to play the cello, cramps and cold and sneak them down the neck of the principal second violinist to warm them, be grateful for such a friend.

Hands that grasp the underside of the other when you breathe too heavy for no reason.

Jam fingers on a bad pass in rugby, take a slapshot to the palm in hockey.

Find a ring that you can furiously twist when you are nervous, the fourth finger on the right hand so that the men your age who look at you on the subway know that you are not engaged, not that you care that they know…

Ink on your fingers when you write longhand, cramp and too much control.

They spread so wide on the piano, a full octave comfortably, a tenth if you stretch.

A girl in class calls them man hands, laugh along.

Pockets that are too small to use.

Kiss the wrists of boys who don’t call back.

Crochet too quickly, the yarn too tight, scarves as thick and warm as felt.

When your mother drinks a little too much, she goes back to her old college party trick and reads palms, says you have a long life ahead of you, that your heart and intellect are both so strong.

Dance and twirl your wrists above your head when the lights flash too white and bright and fast and the music is too loud, a little too much alcohol and the feeling you are beautiful.

Start to sketch again, loose and too many lines that lead the eye everywhere.

Fold laundry, warm threads pulled from cheap acrylic sweaters, wrinkles and soft corners.

Mugs full of tea, full palm press.

Light touch on the back of his hand as you talk at the bar.

A quick squeeze as you leave your coworker on the one train.

Intertwine fingers with friends who do not let go even on crowded sidewalks as we weave through fast and confidant, rushing to wherever we’re going.

Fall asleep holding your own.

© 2018 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.

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