His hands are the roots of a tree
And I am the dirt
I feed him, and he feeds me
He has extraordinary hands. They are big and rough, a working man’s hands, covered in callouses and cuts of all shapes and sizes. There is grime under his fingernails, and he leaves smudges on door frames as he passes from room to room. He has the strongest hands of any man I’ve ever known. Strong not because they can grip harder or carry more, but because they tolerate constant pain. He suffers every day, but he never complains. He has a unique form of arthritis that has plagued him since his early teenage years. His whole body hurts every day, but his hands are the only body part where his pain is written out for the world to see. It isn’t obvious to those who don’t know what they are seeing, but people do occasionally remark on how big they are. When he holds my hand in his, I feel tiny.
His hands are tender. His touch is one of his strongest senses. His sight has started to fade with age, his hearing was dimmed by the loud music of his past, but his remarkable sense of touch remains. He can feel the slightest bump, the smallest crack, the faintest imperfection on a smooth surface. His job requires it, and sometimes when I visit him at work, I marvel at how he can feel things that aren’t there. He closes his eyes and runs his hand slowly down the side of a car, suddenly looking up and pulling me over. Can you feel it? Right there. No, I can’t. I can’t see it either.
His hands are talented. He sees something in his mind and can create it with his hands. He can fix what is broken, he can make something out of nothing. A gleaming table made from a tree we cut down. A whip made from shoe laces and a piece of an old rocking chair; it leaves beautiful red lines across my back like a road map. A sentimental ring fashioned from a bent paperclip. A fishing fly made from bits of thread and found feathers; the fish are catch and release. He caught me with his home made comfort food, and we grew our love over the dining room table. Now, his hands feed our loved ones.
His joints are swollen almost twice their normal size, and he can’t fully close his fists, but he can still tie me up in small intricate knots. He can touch my skin, and it feels like I’m being brushed with satin. His fingers pinch and pull at my nipples, causing me to squirm and scream. His palms spank and slap, reaching out to my heart and brain, smoothing over the wrinkles inside me. His hands reach out for me in the night, snaking their way across the sheets to make sure I’m still there, pulling me in for a snuggle. He finds the cracks in my body at night, the cleft between my breasts, the hiding spot near my armpit, the hole under the small of my back, and shoves his cold hands in there, because cold hands hurt worse than warm hands. I relish these touches, because it is one small way that I can help ease his pain.
His hands hold me tight when I’m feeling sad, and instantly the sadness seeps out of me, like they are magnets drawing the negativity out of my body. He hugs me tight and long when I am happy or needy. He rubs lotion on my back when I am dry. He caresses my hair when I kneel at his feet, moving down to rub my shoulders, letting me know that I am loved through his touch. He holds my hand, sitting next to him in our comfy chairs, walking into the grocery store, sitting across from each other at a restaurant. His hand wrapped around mine as we walk side by side lets me know that I am safe.
Touch is important to both of us, not just sexual touch, but simple loving gestures, holding hands, hugs, a pat on the butt or a pinched nipple while making dinner in the kitchen. We are all about the little things, small moments, little touches, that all add up to make a greater whole. Small touches are how we show our love for one another without using words, how we show affection in public without being overt. His hands are an extension of his love for me, and I use mine in return to love him back.