My Father’s Hands

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Claim a plot of land your prison: boundariesfar as the cricks that keep a neighbour’s farmfrom creeping. The stern command to grow:plough and harrow, till and sow, months of hoe-

blister turned callous. Then, time to reapand sell, winter’s cold repelled by summerskin toughened until abuse is kin.My prison wasn’t the seasons, nor

was it acreage. It came in a pleatedhide that resisted nail-pricks, absorbedthe force of hammers. My father’s handsgrew large from work, thickened from crush and cut.

Each battered nuance pressed on my faceand chest. Blows registered like a titledeed. Going out to the pasture, I could feeljust where our property led. With time

I could picture his hands in my head.He beat a lien in me—his legacyof workday pride and defeat. He carried meacross, then turned back to serve his sentence.

© Neilson Shane