Something She Will Show

My mother shakes
with her left hand. She
hides the other
during photographs.

Two fingers, one flat, wide
and short, one like a
piggy-toe, and her hand, slender
in its odd grace, wrapped
in a pocket.

I’m sorry said
her mother to
her father in the white
hospital room. I couldn’t even
give you a
whole child.

An unholy nun
demanded my mother
hold a flower high in an Easter
parade like
everyone else. As if the world
truly offers the softness of
a pocket, as if the others
were willing to carry their
vulnerability aloft for all
to see.

My daughter will use the hand
of her choice
said her mother, and so she marched
with the hand she shakes with, the hand
she will show.

My mother bears
her vulnerability, and therefore her
beauty visibly and with
courage. I ache for
the touch of that
banished hand on
my face
for the special grace
not of this world
that lives
in her fingers.
I want a parade and
I want it in church
with my mother at the lead and
holding her hand aloft
in my own I will
sing: This
is my mother, these
are her fingers, isn’t she
And following will be
a stream of
women, each of us
the part
we most like
to hide.

—Jeannie Zandi