Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Imagine a world
where faces and voices
are all the same,
and people
know each other
by reaching out
and touching
their hands.

Imagine these hands
as living records
of character,
sorrow, and joy.

Some of the hands
are warm, gentle,
and forgiving,
some are scarred
and wise, a blessing.

Other hands are cold,
the kind of hands
no other hand wants
to touch, the kind
that do not want
to be touched,
that hide themselves
in pockets or pretend
they are busy with
some important,
empty task.

Imagine the moment
when hands first meet.

Imagine your hand
caressing the hand
of a stranger,
and his hand or hers
caressing yours,
and the miracle
that unfolds
when both hands
quietly yield.

Imagine the distance
two hands might travel,
the valleys and the roads,
the river beds, meadows,
and burned out woods.

Imagine the granite
of experience
as it melts and runs
like fragrant honey
down your arms,
penetrates your skin,
your heart, your mind.

From Songs and Letters, originally published February 25, 2006.

Recently Linked: My thanks to Joseph Hutchison for linking to my “dream file” at Annandale Dream Gazette in his post yesterday. When you’re there, be sure to follow the link to his dream — the first of his included in that intriguing publication.

My thanks also to Mairi, who has signed on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. Mairi contributes to The Plumbline School and writes the blog Secret Poems from the Times Literary Supplement.

In the Forum: a sweeping act of major inconsequence.


ALeks said...

Such a delicate,inspirationel and warm poem William.When I imagine all those hands I do get the complete picture with the sensation of warmt too,thank you.It feels like i can feel your friendly,warm hands if I may say so.Beautiful! :O)Have a great day,im working on myself as your portrait again.Take care,Aleksandra!

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Aleksandra. It’s wonderful to hear from you again. I hope you’re doing well in your new surroundings....

Rachel said...

Very much like eyes assets William, hands.
I am looking very much on hands at work when people share their books with me, make and take new
and they often greet with Handschlag.

A blind needs his hands, you have rights, hands assets really very much...

warm, Rachel which ranges dir... their hands

Mairi said...

My mother has been dead almost ten years and I've noticed in the last year or two that although my sisters don't look at all like her they have her hands - not just the shape of them but the way they hold them and most tellingly, the way they move them, so that watching one of them work is exactly like watching my mother do some ordinary chore. Living records, as you say. At least where I live the handshake is giving way to the air kiss as a form of greeting, which is too bad because the handshake was a much more vital and telling connection. People really could know each other, at least a little, by reaching out and touching their hands.

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Rachel and Mairi. I’ve been fascinated by hands for as long as I can remember, and still can’t help studying them in daily situations, like those you both describe. When I was little, my father made a point of teaching me how to shake hands properly, which meant, basically, that the grip needed to be firm, and of course during the handshake the eyes should meet. A weak handshake was inexcusable, and except where illness or frailty intervened, betrayed a lack of character.

Also, nowadays, to me, hands and leaves seem to resemble each other....

Elisabeth said...

Your beautiful poem here reminds me of the way a mother reaches out to touch her baby at birth and beyond.
These days I look after my grandson and the urge to caress his head and his fingers is very strong.
Babies take in things with their mouths to begin with. They use their mouths as if they are hands. Finally your poem reminds me of the sensation I have when I am in a museum or an exhibition somewhere - the urge to touch the exhibits is unbelievable.

One of my daughters works at Rippon Lea, a national trust home here in Melbourne that is preserved for cultural heritage. There are signs everywhere throughout this house urging people 'not' to touch. It's a primitive urge, isn't it, hard to resist even when we know that every single touch over the centuries can wear something away.

Thanks for our beautiful poem.

William Michaelian said...

Elisabeth, thanks very much. In a way, what better comment on an object’s worth than to find it has been worn away by the touch of countless hands....

I hope never to forget the night when our first child was born, and how her entire hand was not big enough to wrap around my finger. And the sight of my wife’s hand in its almost weightless caress and the way it seemed to communicate with this new life.

Nazia Mallick said...

Such a wonderful, wonderful description.

"...and the miracle
that unfolds
when both hands
quietly yield"

I love this, and the entire poem!

I wonder what my hands convey..."scarred
and wise" perhaps; although not scarred physically.

William Michaelian said...

Nazia, thank you. I think if we were to stop long enough to study our hands, we could learn a great deal about ourselves....