My father's hands

His were the most attractive
Hands I ever saw:
Philosopher’s hands - lean,
Ascetic, masculine.
Two fingers had tobacco stains;
A third one wore a slender
Wedding ring of war-time
Gold, pinkish with copper.

Two dickie-birds perched often
On his fingernails.
His thumb would poke out,
Wagging in the pulpit
At its prayers.
One finger had been
Savaged by the fish
That got away.

I watched those hands twist worms
Onto fish-hooks, fasten laces
So they’d never come undone,
Polish the yew-wood
Table that they’d made,
Shuffle cards, click deadly
Chessmen down on sly
Trajectories I hadn’t spotted.

But who could guess his hands
Would change because of illness:
The nails curve, the fish-bit
Little finger stay
Bent from the crushing
Of his unturned body,
His strong grasp drop
The soup-spoon as he fell asleep.

With thanks to Pexels (via Pixabay) for the photo.
Published in The Lake