Thick hands, heavy hands. Blistered and cracked, scarred. A working man’s hands, steady, instinctive. Splintered, scraped, raw-knuckled hands. Catch a pop-fly bare handed, stir a cup of hot chocolate, tear out rotted drywall, turn magazine pages with a licked forefinger. Sturdy hands. They have folded laundry, smacked the side of the old black and white when the vertical-hold was shot. Changed the spark plugs, planed down swollen doors, changed the bed sheets, scrubbed burned grease from the frying pan, augered the deep-lake ice for fishing. Strong enough to wield a sledge-hammer on a fence post, and with enough agility to roll a marijuana cigarette on a windy day. They have hit me, held me, slapped me with a belt wrapped around the knuckles, and drawn lines in the dirt to teach me the letters in my name.
I look at my own hands. Pale and soft from soapy water and disinfectant. A janitor’s hands. Not hard or scabbed. Worn clean, scuffed pink, soft even under the nails. Mild hands. Rolling-a-joint hands. Something in common, other than our name.