“Your hands look like mama’s.”
My paternal aunt.
What is not my own. What is opposable, like thumbs. What is coordinate, like a person’s two hands. The claims of the flesh. What impulse fired to bring nerve, sinew, tissue and skin to cooperate and work? Whose impulse? These hands, mine, also hers: The veins, like the delta of a river, fanning and gathering, crossing and parting, under the thin skin that rises up to the knuckles. The fingers long and slender in ratio to the palm. When I wore rings, they struggled over the joints before coming to rest, oddly slack, on the fragile bone dowel. Just like hers. Grandma sewed buttons for eyes on teddy bears (work for the hospital Auxiliary), watered cucumbers and tomatoes and then, after harvesting them, cut them up for a sandwich on bread out of her breadmaker. Methodist, she fingered the pages of a New International Translation each morning at the kitchen table. I use the King James, when I am not rolling the beads of a rosary or tracing the top-to-bottom, right-to-left columns of Chinese sutras. I keep her Jerusalem Cross behind the Buddha and her hands knotted over my life, a net, a stirrup, a grip between what I do and what I have inherited.