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Mother’s Fingers by Helen Shanley

Mother’s Fingers by Helen Shanley

Goodness flowed from her fingers;
blossomed in dresses made out of nothing,
in fresh juice over ice (hand-chipped for my fevers),
in home-made noodles and chicken broth
with delicate chicken feet.

The same patient fingers
traced words as she read,
and placed dominoes one by one,
took my dictation, typed poems,
kept a campany’s books,
dusted in all the corners.

Those fingers remembered what the world was like
when they were one year old
and groped for the mother who was not there.
plucked a live goose at eight,
and lifted the weight of the world.
They remembered the satisfaction
of making her own lace collars and cuffs,
her saving money for travel.
They remembered the feel of endless summer
with never a hand to hold.

That must be why, when they found me,
they wouldn’t let go.

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