Monday, November 8, 2010


This poem came from a prompt from, and the prompt was written by Marty McConnell--a spoken word artist I really admire.

Here is the prompt:

stanza one: what was the creator thinking when making your hands?
stanza two: something you ate once and never will again
stanza three: something one of your siblings told you once
stanza four: how have your hands changed?
stanza five: the last, best thing you made to eat
stanza six: something your grandmother once told you
stanza seven: what animal or vegetable you would like your hands eventually to become

I stuck to it pretty much. I dare you to try it. It's hard! I dare you to share what you write...I would love to see what other people come up with. :) Stanza 4 is a little's not really about change I guess, and stanza 7 is a plant, not an animal or a vegetable. I think I'm okay with that, though. ;)


When the creator made my hands,
I am certain that first,
she paused.
Hands are supposed to match
the size of the heart,
so service can match
desire to serve
but to match
the size of my heart, she realized
I would need eight hands, and
knowing I could only be human, she
stopped in thought.
Perhaps she wondered
what life would be like
for a person with a too big heart and
too few hands,
but she decided to send me to earth, and I was
not quite a mistake but more of
an experiment to see
just what I would make of myself.

With not enough hands
I learned to give and give and give
because my heart aches with fullness
wanting to be given and
aches with the
pain of the world.
I have too few hands to protect, to
push away, to stave off the invaders of the spirit,
so I slowly learned
to feed my soul untruths and
nourish myself with lies
I cannot rid my body of and
can only hope
I never have to eat

“When I grow up,” my baby sister said,
“I want to be you.”
We held our hands together
comparing the sizes
she, astonished that my finger tips could
bend over hers,
and then we folded them together
so hers became nearly invisible
under mine
fitting neatly like they wanted
that protection, like maybe that is why
my hands were made.
I hope the creator gave her
stronger hands than mine:
her spirit needs protection against
those falsehoods
I ingested.

These hands were meant to
topple patriarchy, to
build houses, to
wipe away the tears of babies
and grandmas, to
hold puppies and encyclopedias, to
nourish a strong
survivor of a soul
to do the job of 8 hands in
10 fingers
so instead, they
play music in the isolation
drawing melodies from simple strings of the
harp or heart variety, it
doesn’t matter
the difference is only
two small letters,

I watched my hands as I
cut the broccoli
having not eaten the entire day
my hands were shaky as I
sliced the thick, green, crunchy stalk
sending tiny florets skating
across the counter.
I cooked it quickly,
“pan-roasted” as the recipe’s name implied,
on the stove top
with salt and pepper
and a bit of butter
it tasted like
health and
and nourishment without shame.
It had been so long, I almost
forgot what that tasted like.

“You’re an old soul, Laura,”
my grandmother said.
I was 8 at the time
so I nodded
hoping this was a good thing.
I wonder what my hands were like
on my first trip around the sun.

When I die, again,
to the Earth as nothing more than a bit of dirt
a soft place in the ground
giving a worm a small, fertile plot or a
leaf a comfortable place to land,
when I die and fall into
forgotten nothingness
from the place where my hands are laid will spring
two, purple flowers
the only thing left
of the energy I was.

I wear myself differently now

“Pretty is as pretty does,”
my grandmother said,
and I learned
to be the girl who does pretty
and was pretty
and did pretty
in everything, and knew that to
be pretty
do pretty and
make pretty
good friends, you have to
be pretty good and
make your parents
pretty proud and
have nice fingernails because
pretty girls have nice fingernails,
my grandmother told me.

“Actions speak louder than words,”
was another adage repeated
so I learned
to be the girl who acted loudly and
spoke softly and
knew what to do
and how to do it in actions but
couldn’t form the words or find the voice because
the actions were what counted and
the voice behind could be silent,
humble, and
unassuming. Just
leave the rest for those who
have something to say, I thought, because
I’m the girl who
does pretty
good things and has pretty
fingernails, you see. The
action of compassion
was the only thing that mattered
and stories didn’t get told because I believed
actions were louder
than voice.

But the layered
truths of my life
spread themselves thicker and thicker
moving me from pretty
good stories to pretty
strong thoughts to,
pretty much just
“what the fuck?”
and I can’t get to the center
of my stomach
where the layers lie
covering the truth that cannot be told
where the pretty
brutal fact that
life isn’t always pretty
lives. It’s the pit where you know
friends can betray you and where
having pretty actions,
pretty words, and a pretty face
can lead you to a pretty
horrible evening, where the
loudness of your actions
is ignored, the
loudness of your words means
nothing at all,
and you spend the next
seven months
biting your nails, wondering
if you’ll ever be a
pretty girl

Pretty used to glow
like an innocence on my skin
and my actions served as vehicles
curating my soul
exposing the hidden beauty
of a pretty confident woman
with words that whispered of amazement
revealing my faith in the people of my world.
I wear myself differently now
casting off the prettiness
holding the confidence
with bated breath
hiding the strength of my voice
where the prettiness used to be
immobilizing my actions
in the fear
named Aftermath
hoping one day I’ll wear myself
as something undeniably