The delight I take in watching my hands
age—endless. They are my grandmother’s
ridged veins, branches I thought long
gone to mill-dust. Slowly, dorsals
become paper, a crinkling of tissue
crepe marking birthdays. So, Doctor, tell me
again how Restylane will plump
them back to beauty. Make them youthful, dewy
again. Erase my years, the dogged
ones of clawing in & digging up, out,
free. Doctor, explain once
more how “hands don’t lie”—
you think I don’t know that? These hands
speak everything, flutter just truths.
They say, These lines
are wages earned, liver spots bonuses
clocked, tendons popped
with wisdom. In these hands are carried
the entirety of me: my cells cupped
by my mother, her mother, the whole
trail-weary tribe from Oklahoma and Cherokee
rose roads back. Doctor, you want
to rewind these hands with yours?
I handle my own unraveling,
shaking arthritic thumbs and all.
Jessica Mehta is a multi-award-winning poet and author of the Oregon Book Award finalist collection “When We Talk of Stolen Sisters.” As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, space, place, and ancestry in post-colonial “America” informs much of their work. You can learn more at www.thischerokeerose.com.