August 12, 2010


This week's prompt over at is about possessions.  (My prompt idea-sorry if you found it tricky.)  I wrote one piece about something we all possess, our hands, and the love/hate relationship I used to have with them. 

(Below this piece is another one that takes the prompt more literally.)


I used to envy ladies hands.
Those long, lithe fingers
fluttering as butterflies.
The creamy smoothness of
narrow, elegant palms.
Their perfect french nails
encircling crystal wine stems,
and time for weekly manicures.

My thick, peasant hands could never compare.
Callused palms and barked raw knuckles,
rough, short nails, devoid of lacquer.
My hands had too much work to do.
They yanked out weeds,
and kneaded dough,
chopped firewood,
and intricately braided hair.
They earned a paycheck,
and paid the bills,
yet still made time for poetry
while scrubbing  floors.

Not perfect, though.
At times I lost control of them as
they spanked my children,
flung crockery in anger,
beat a table in frustration,
and grasped too tightly
the things I loved.
Yet they could delicately
remove a splinter,
gently bathe small peachy bottoms,
And hold my husband
through countless whispering nights.

From the wealth of years
I now look at those with ladylike hands.
Those of the the glossy talons,
and thick gold rings.
I see them now quite fetus-like,
brand new, unformed, no knowledge there.
But mine…

My hands have lived.
(As I look on the hands of my young granddaughters, I hope they grow to have ones like mine...)


Here is a more literal example of my prompt idea about possessions.  
The crock I wrote about (already well used) was given to my grandmother sometime around 1910, by someone who I like to think taught her the recipe.

The old stoneware bowl
is not very pretty,
but it’s lasted well over a century,
and served heavy duty.

It once belonged to my grandma
of the flowered bib apron,
covering her housedress,
rosary firm in her pocket.

It’s held countless batches
of dough left for rising,
made without any recipe,
just by feel they were perfect.

My mom gave it to me
when she taught me the secret
of that magic concoction
for feeding my family.

Now that chipped piece of crockery
sits low in the cupboard,
gathering years full of dust and
holding in memories.

It's waiting and hoping
for some new generation,
to honor the history,
and learn this tradition.

Then I will show them,
and pass on the knowledge,
along with the old heavy bowl,
to treasure as I have.


  1. I really like your hands poem...about their looks and their uses. I didnt (my apostrophe is not working - sigh) really envy other peoples hands, but I used to always say that my hands were born OLD. And neat to read about the crock that is passing through the hands in your family! Nice prompt, Cindy.

  2. Hi Cynthia,

    I like that finishing line about your hands; they've lived and there's nothing wrong with good, honest toil! An old mixing bowl holds a wealth of family memories and I hope you'll be able to pass on the secrets!

  3. Cynthia, I love the first piece. Mine are "peasant hands," as well. You bring them honor, and I thank you. :-)
    My background knowledge had the smell of bread wafting through the air while I read your second piece. Again, you bring honor, this time to your family tradition. Bravo for both pieces!

  4. I loved the Hands poem. It kind of describes my mom's hands. Much lived, much loved. Very beautiful...

    half-way through

  5. Love the hands poem as well - some lovely imagery there.

  6. My post disappeared in a puff of smoke!

    Both of your poems 'speak' to me clearly. I agree that manicured glamour hands betoken a less than profound mine; and the mixing bowl? Superb. I make my own break, satisfying to eat and (dare I say it?) it leaves my hands white and soft after the kneading.

  7. PS I've really enjoyed this prompt and also the results in all the poetry that followed.

  8. I am one who has 'piano fingers' but I chew them, LOL, even though the nails are strong. I have to go to a manicuriist at least every two weeks to keep them growing! (and I haven't been there in a month, tee hee) I love the memories of your stone bowl. Two very unique takes on the prompt!

  9. Cynthia, I love your presentation of willowy-hand envy giving way to an appreciation of the life lived by sturdy "peasant hands." Especially nice in this appreciation is the later comparison of the earlier envied ladies' hands to talons. Nice!

    Your bread picture made me hungry! And I loved the way your described the heavy crockery as connected to and sustaining a lived life. With chips, no fine china, but a piece of earth and life. Very nice indeed!

  10. Both pieces were wonderful reads! Excellent post!


  11. I love the first one, especially--the details are vivid, the rhythms lovely.

  12. Cynthia I love both of these!
    But the one about hands is divine!
    I love the imagery.
    Thanks for a great prompt.

  13. Cynthia,
    I love the well-used hands,the hands that have lived. The details give this poem such an earthy power.

    As for the bowl—just a wonderful poem that speaks of generations and the threads that tie them together.

  14. first thanks for prompt Cynthia.....and thanks for reminder of our body parts including hands...i have played many sports all my life with what everyone calls "soft" hands...anyways once again enjoyed your words...happy trails

  15. Loved the prompt and all the poetry it birthed. And both of your poems yeilded very vivid memories of my Mother's hands, and the bread and rolls she made once a week when we were growing up. Instead of restating what everyone else has already said, I'd rather applaud, even if you can't hear it. Thank you for all of it,


  16. I love the hand poem, especially 'gently bathe small peachy bottoms,' which took me right back to my own babies' infancy.

  17. I's amazing what hands can carry (literally and figuratively!)

  18. I loved the Hand poem. What a unique and wonderful way to have used the prompt and it delivered. You had me right there with you on your journey. I have a thing about hands too. That is the first thing I notice in men. I need to find their hands "attractive" if that doesn't sound too crazy, but by that I mean they have to be hands that show that they have lived....

  19. Cynthia - thanks for this great prompt. I think both of your poems are very good. In "Hands" you express so perfectly the wisdom and freedom of accepting and appreciating our body parts for what they do for us rather than valuing stereotypical beauty.

  20. Cynthia your odes to your hands and to the mixing bowl tells us eloquently about utilitarian beauty.

  21. I like the way the hands can capture the experiences of life, and how a mixing bowl passes on the knowledge of cooking. Very well done.

    And thanks for creating the prompt for BTP this week!

  22. I like the idea of "peasant hands", signifying something real and useful, hands that have truly lived. And great description of the stoneware bowl lovingly passed down from one generation to the next.

  23. These two pieces compliment each other so well. There's much to be admired in what those hands (and that crockery) have done over the years.

  24. Your hands poem is absolutely superb - it sings of value and passing on possessions. The bowl so beautifully used is a gorgeous 'keeper'.

  25. Cynthia, I LOVED the prompt -- even though I am late to posting and reading. Your second poem reminds me of my grandmother's cutting board that I still have and use almost daily. It isn't pretty, but it is strong and old, and I love where its been, what it has felt and seen and served up. . . it keeps me connected very tangibly to my late grandmother's hands.