PoetryDispatch No. 338 | January 5, 2011
Hymn to My Hands
Again, the spider appears on the ceiling
above my head as he always does each time
he approves my thinking. The mudra
I make at my work and puja table floats thus:
both hands flat. Aum: The right hand rises
and touches my heart. Mani: The left hand
joins it there. Padme: The right hand
floats back to the table top. Hum: The left hand
then joins it there. In the heart is the flowering
of universes. My hands rest on the altar.
They, with their body, have both lived more
than eight decades. They are small for a man,
short fingered, yet strong enough. On one
finger of the left hand, a wedding ring;
a university ring on the finger of the right.
The hair on both is sparse: oak opening,
African savannah, sparse. On the sandy
loam plains are rivers, blue veins that course
through that tanned tundra that is the back
of both hands. In places the surface cracks
in the parallelograms and triangles of soil
surfaces starved of water. Whirlpools
and eddys at fingertips. Canyons and arroyos
in palms. Hands can caress or make a fist.
Living things, they. Even here, a mystery.
Consciousness can will some things,
holding a pencil, saluting; but when still,
life, vitality, beyond mere will. I tell my thumb
to move and it does. But then the hands
at rest are packed with energy. I do not
know how this has happened. I cherish
the mystery. And there are spots.
Death spots? Liver marks? Sunspots?
Speak of the mortal life. Speak of coming
terminus. Speak of the star inset in galaxies.
The spots are galaxies. They become groups
of galaxies. On my hands, universes. We are
made of star stuff. Those astronomies
before me on my two hands are the astronomies
of the ever living, pulsing, unlimited Cosmos.
That should make me afraid, as I was terrified
when seated on my meditation blanket and I saw,
long ago, paralyzed by the sight of my dissolution
among the pulsars and exploding novas. I did not
want to die. But now watching the galaxies
on the backs of my two hands, I am not afraid.
I take comfort. My meditation is cool. I am grateful.
Aum mani padme hum. Bodhi svaha. Alleluia. Amen.
In my heart is the flowering of universes.
So let it be! Praise God! Amen!