Sunday, January 31, 2010


“You can tell a man by his hands.”
My mother’s words knock against the edges of my consciousness.
It is so subtle that I don’t even notice them. I don’t even know that this is what I think.

But I can tell you exactly what my father’s hands look like. Because my mother’s words tell me that it is important. That these are the kinds of hands that I should look for in a man. That these are the kinds of hands that will tell me if a man is a “good man”.

My father has ali’i hands, hands of royalty. His fingers are long. His nails are square and perfectly shaped, with lovely half moons at the bottoms and clean white crescents at the tops that stop just a whisper shy of his fingertips. His hands are smooth and the lifelines dance a pleasing pattern across his palms.

I commit his hands to memory, and I notice hands.
And I measure hands.
And I form opinions about a man’s character based upon his hands.

I married a man with my father’s hands.
I divorced that man.

The man I love today, does not have my father’s hands.

The man I love today has the hands of a worker. His fingers are short. His imperfect nails are thick shields, permanently discolored and misshapen. His hands are rough and the lifelines are buried under a crust of chapped, cracked skin.

And yet…

These are the hands that love me.
These are the hands that comfort me when words have no meaning.
These are the hands that melt into my skin and touch my soul.

My body commits these hands to memory.

Yes, mother, you are right.
You can tell a man by his hands.