28 Dec 2009

Holding hands -- Terese Davis

[1961–current, Australian]

Taking me home
back down the Pacific Highway
you decided on a romantic gesture –
you drove us off the edge.
A driven man you said
and snatched at my trembling hands.
Holding them
tight as a first prize
you cried that you missed these hands.

These hands
shaking from post-operative nausea
are the same hands
that held our screaming baby girl
smoothing away
all her night’s anxieties
with a patting
drummed-out in fevered darkness
it seemed these hands were dead
and my bleeding would not stop.

While your unfaithful hands
were conspiring with you in another city
squeezing the life
from another woman
a casualty doctor’s hands
were washed
as he prepared to rescue me
from this botched abortion. My hands
frozen to the sides of the operating table –
two fists of fear.

You were not there
to unclench my stinging fingertips.
know nothing of these hands.

Source: Porter, D & Millett, J (eds) 1989, ‘On Struggle Street – An Anthology of New Poets’, Poetry Australia 122, South Head Press, Port Melbourne.

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