Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday


My winter hands are eternally cracked and dry:
white sheafs of skin rubbed thin by water, towels
and the stark harsh air.
I've noticed paper cuts finely slicing
the inners of my fingers; one slit bends
into the crease of flesh and bone when I curl it.
Just below the loosened skin between right
thumb
and forefinger rests a mark of fading red. The other
night, I knocked against the pie dish
sliding it out of the oven and hot glass touched me,
burnt. I held a papertoweled ice cube to it to cool.
...
Each morning, I slip a ring with the sign of the
cross
on my right forefinger.
It is thick and silvery, and makes a sound if I tap it with
my nail. The smallest of reminders, that hollow sound,
how metal nails might knock into wood,
and a human being between the two.
Over six years, my nails have etched and scratched it;
like a tree with rings, or lines on your palm.
...
It was the strangest, out-of-nowhere gift:
A girl gave it to me in the newspaper classroom, two days
before we graduated from high school. We weren't close;
friendly acquaintances, really. But she pulled out a box
as we chattered and
said:
"They gave these to all of the seniors at my church.
I thought it might mean more to you than me."
...
I'm not sure how I thought of it then; grateful, I think,
and perhaps struck that she had even thought of me
and
somehow seen a faith.
I think there was some element of wishing that she
had found a reason to slip it on her own finger.
But I thanked her, and I hugged her, and I've
worn it ever since.
My favorite thing about the ring is the inward part that
clasps
my finger. It is smooth as water; no nail-knocks
or scrapes from the world, from what my hands touch.
No scars.

2 comments:

Leslee Samuelson said...

just beautiful

Caroline said...

Gorgeous, Claire.