“I Am From the Church of Human Hands” by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Sarah Dickenson Snyder


the Hands that tighten the lug bolts on rotated tires,
the Hands that picked the hen-of-the woods
(and not death caps) I buy to make wild mushroom soup,
the hundreds of steady Hands clasping steering wheels on a highway,
the Hands of Lucille Clifton, Emily Dickinson, and Kay Ryan
the Hands of the surgeon who replaced my worn knee bones with titanium
the Hands of the man unearthing and fixing the water pipe to the house
the Hands of the engineer who designed the bridge I drive over every day
and the Hands of the ones who built it
the Hands of the pharmacist who counts out the right pills
the Hands of the assembly worker who attached my brakes
the Hands of lighthouse keepers, beacons in the fog and darkness
the Hands of my sisters who make beautiful things
the Hands that pick up the injured, move them to safety
the Hands of the women who forge paths through the uncharted
the Hand that holds a flaming torch on the edge of a country
the Hands that cooked the red Thai curry I ate last night
the Hands of my father, strong, warm, and kind
the Hands that planted daffodils, peonies, and blue irises I see each spring
the Hands that met me out of the womb
the Hands of the woman who cuts my hair
the Hands of Georgia O’Keefe, Mary Cassatt, and Picasso
the Hands of the rescuers after an avalanche
the Hand of the man in the ambulance who said, We’ve got you.
the Hands of my mother, making me clothes, sweaters, and chicken cordon bleu
the Hands of my students, raised and ready to speak
the Hands of my children, so small at first
the Hands of you, how grateful I am—
I have faith in what hands do.

Picture this scene in the Church
of Human Hands—our cupped Hands
holding holy water and maybe we Hand out
Hand-outs, and Hands-down,
everyone gets a Hand or lends a Hand.
Hand over Hand, we rise, do our jobs,
hold Hands or clap our Hands, pressed
together—our best, close at Hand.

from Poets Respond
March 8, 2020


Sarah Dickenson Snyder: “Of course, I agree with the focus on washing and disinfecting our hands to avoid spreading the coronavirus. However, this poem comes from a desire to elevate the power of human hands and the trust I have in what hands do—I don’t want to see them as things that just need cleaning—how much we must have faith in each others’ hands every day, every minute.” (web)

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