Paula Doyle Donlon
These rings drew warmth from her hands Before I was born
Meticulous, she calculated
One for each daughter
Gifts from the grave.
Her hands brought order
Pruning old roses and young daughters Slapping butter into shape
With wooden paddles
Counting beads and joyful mysteries Untangling hair
Wiping faces and faeces Vomit and tears.
Her hands drew music once from cello strings Harsh chords played pizzicato
Then low sounds heavy as a womb.
Soft finger-tips hardened by practice, Necessary callouses. Firmly
She plucked obedience from well-tuned children Controlling tenderness.
My young hands struggled
To playa different tune. Now
I see raised veins like blue worms Crawling on wind-brown skin Dry skin dappled by age.
I have my mother's hands Heredity links our wrists
With indomitable genes.
Page 47, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 28