Somehow hands carry off
hard memories of handshakes.
They find solitude in pockets
and dark burials of lint.
Often they surprise thighs
surprising them with muscles.
late afternoons, at brick labor,
they're apt to sneak home for rest.
Shovel handles give them polish;
pick handles, proud rind of callus.
They remember pine resin, horseshoes,
how crowbars throw selves backward.
Left hand has intimate recall
of fastball's inside threat;
right hand for a first stick shift
on a '46 black Ford convertible,
moments, it seems, after war was gone.
They lock magic behind another's back.
hands give the sleight of messages
hanging passive as window weights.
They promote scabs and resolute scars,
toss knuckles out of position,
meet acquaintances abruptly;
flesh of lovers is a longer row.
when they fold finally, one on top,
nothing else is left for chance.
—From This Rare Earth & Other Flights
Tom Sheehan’s latest books are Brief Cases, Short Spans and From the Quickening. A collection of cowboy stories, Where the Cowboys Ride Forever, is now in the hands of a western publisher. His work has also appeared in many print and online publications. Sheehan has several Pushcart nominations and won the Georges Simenon Award.