Friday, August 31, 2018

Hand Therapy--A Writer's Poem for the Labor Day Weekend

After two months of immobilization of the right arm and shoulder to try to begin the healing for my badly shattered right shoulder joint that needed but couldn't have complete surgical replacement, my right hand was not working well. I couldn't sign my name, and my signature with my left hand was totally illegible.

As I've been able to slowly begin physical therapy for the shoulder and arm, I've also been doing PT exercises for the hand, as well. Two weeks ago tonight, I gave a poetry reading at The Writers Place in Kansas City, and I was able to sign copies of my new book of poetry, Dark Sister, that folks so kindly bought. This was a big step forward for me.

I have always been a handwritten journal person. I collect beautiful notebooks and journals and fountain pens, and people give them to me as gifts. I wrote in one most days of each week. I haven't been able to since April 4th, when I fell and shattered this shoulder. But tonight I have handwritten a short paragraph in my current journal. My therapist told me to do it every day now until it hurts, along with spinning and knitting, because it will help exercise and strengthen the muscles and tendons.

Something about this whole idea reminded me of what we writers do, so here's a poem about that.



HAND THERAPY

Bring your palms together in prayer
against your chest. Feel the pull

in the once-broken right wrist.
Release, relax, and repeat ten times.

Squeeze the putty to make a fist.
Pinch it between your thumb and each finger,

one after another down the length
of the squeezed-out roll, creating a wavy snake.

Hook the tips of all four fingers, trying
to touch tips to bases, but inches of air

keep them apart. Pull those fingertips
to the center of the palm to make a fist

without the putty’s help. Stretch them
down toward the base of the hand.

Struggle to hold a pen and write a line.
Stop when the fingers tingle and go numb.

For what are we humans without the hand, clever, useful
appendage, connected so closely to our big brains,

that cuts, creases, carries, and caresses
our way through daily obstacles and opportunities.

Write another line and a second before the pain
sets in—the way every writer has to work.

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