But I love this hand I photographed in a garden nearby, weathered and full of life. I should be grateful to have hands as worn as this, a pilgrim’s hands, prayerful hands, practical hands, unpampered hands that gather marjoram and sage and put out water for the birds, that write on paper and computer keys always wherever in the world I am and that way talk to friends and gather stories and history and lives and work through thoughts and scoop up happiness with insatiable greed.
“What do you do with this hand?” a massage therapist asked me in December, surprised that it was so tired and tight. I was surprised in turn, thinking “well, live.” What don’t I do with it? I am a writer, I told her. It seemed so obvious. My hand is what I am.
So in the end I couldn’t ask anything better than to have the hands of a grandmother, of my own grandmother and grandfather too, the hands that made Orange Pekoe tea and worked the leather of saddles, the hands that held me, showed me love. The hands of strangers that stroke saffron on a forehead, that carve santos, that stitch up wounds, that offer shadowplay in firelight, read Braille, string pearls, polish a skate blade, plug a dike. The hands in which a tarnished coin lies, reading heads or tails, telling my own or someone else’s fortune, showing the way.