Tuesday Poem by Rasak-Oyadiran Opeyemi
We need to talk about the tenderness of hands, just hands.
Of how fingers locking into one another can feel like a grip on the heart,
how for months, I kissed a man in the most carnal of ways but hesitated
when he held out his palm.
Where my mothers come from, hands are how they show joy,
how they receive love and this body is littered with palmprints of a thousand affections,
no wonder I feel less beautiful when I’m away from home; no one here can read me.
I like to think of beauty as well manicured fingers; cuticles just the right color of pale, the subtle elegance, hands not too large
but big enough to make a mark in the archive of my skin.
I’m trying to expand my vocabulary.
But none of these explain why when the tip of this thumb grazes mine,
I feel bathed in dew.
Once, I saw a child latch onto her mother’s hand.
Her whole mighty fist bunched up like a territory grabbing continent on her mother’s index finger.
I was 14 and already knew that hands could also break, squeeze and shove
but watching that, it felt like I had emerged from a pool of sunlight.