chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

my father’s hands…

LRK ~ Desert Center ~ 1942In the yet-dark dawn, I rub my hands to warm them at the glowing hearth of the computer screen. Feeling my hands in my hands, I think of my father’s hands, solid and square, like the rest of him.

His ring finger was shorter than the others, the knuckle not aligned with its neighbors, but bending from deeper on the back of his hand. As a child, I would press that errant knuckle and he would explain, again, that his mother had forbidden him to play football — saving his hands for the violin, perhaps. But he played anyway, and one day he caught a hard throw directly on the end of that finger, driving it deep into his hand. Of course he couldn’t tell his mother.

I never understood how he could conceal it — certainly it must have been painful and swollen — but by the time the damage was revealed, the knuckle was out of place for good and the finger forever shortened. It worked alongside the others and if it hurt or bothered him, he never mentioned it, his hands hard-working and warm. He never was much of a complainer.

But as he grew older, he would sometimes come to the dinner table and prop his forearms on its edge, his hands held out like mitts, immobilized with arthritis. Unable to lift the fork and knife in front of him, he would be angry, not at the pain, but at the betrayal of these, his most reliable tools.

After a few days, the pain would subside and he could resume the things that brought pleasure and order to his life — carving, writing, turning the pages of a book, even shaving.

Sometimes I would notice him, in a quiet moment, rubbing his hands together, one massaging the other, warming them, waking them, readying them, and himself, for the work he was about to begin.

As I do, here, in the yet-dark dawn.

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