Associate Director and Head of Operations, Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab, MIT
Your hands have memories
all their own, contained in the rhythm
of the kitchen blade. They turn vegetables
like artifacts, judging their weight,
their possible use. Waxen rings of onion
shave thin as embarrassment.
Mushrooms fall into pale crescent moons.
Peppers spill their loose change;
your hands wear the white seeds
like knowledge. Remembered
in the motion of your fingers
are your own father’s hands,
cleaning fish. What treasure
those perch must have seemed,
in buckets, shining like whispered promises.
He would lift them–mouths straining
for a million more years of evolution,
eyes deep as dreaming–turn the tender
stomachs, pale and soft, then knife
and empty all that sustained.
His hands moved in rhythmic ritual
up and down their flanks,
throwing off scales in a shimmering hail,
some glancing off him and to the floor,
some pressing sweetly as need
to the damp of his skin.
Appeared in issue no. 16, 2000 of Gulf Stream Magazine