Hands – my own; my inheritance

In my hands, I see,
Father, Mother, Me.

( Trinity by Gallivanta 2015 )

Hands – my own; my inheritance.

'I am my own long hands And their live touch of you.'    Pair by Paul Engle 1908-1991

‘I am my own long hands
And their live touch of you.’
Pair by Paul Engle 1908-1991

Eternal in us as ancestral-wrought Curve of our thigh and the gripped shape of hands.' Earth in our Blood by Paul Engle 1908-1991

Eternal in us as ancestral-wrought
Curve of our thigh and the gripped shape of hands.’
Earth in our Blood by Paul Engle 1908-1991

This post, and the poem, Trinity, are dedicated to Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales , and to Marylin at Things I want to tell my mother . Both Marylin and BrendaΒ  recently urged me to have a go at writing a poem. Trinity is the result. πŸ™‚

This post is also dedicated to the poetic muse of my blog, William Blake. ( I am sure he will be pleased to know. πŸ˜‰ )

Photo-poem, based on a quote from Blake’s Auguries of Innocence.

Β© silkannthreades

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131 thoughts on “Hands – my own; my inheritance

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Laila. You understand the importance of family around the table, the love that is in the solid, the giving of food, the hands that bake the bread. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  1. Marylin Warner

    Gallivanta, “Trinity” is wonderful. The beautiful simplicity is its strength. I hope you’ll write more. One of the women in my writing class just began writing poems about each of the members of her family. She’s written one a day so far in April, and it’s created an amazing momentum in her writing.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Marylin, thank you. And would you believe I wrote another poem for my next post? I don’t think I can manage one a day like the lady in your writing class. 2 in 2 days will likely be my limit for at least another 6 months. πŸ™‚ But, yes, if you keep your hand in with writing practice, things are bound to develop a helpful rhythm/momentum.

      Reply
  2. Leya

    You have a great gift – or many. Your hands and your words touch the very deapth of my heart. my thoughts are very often with my parents and with my grandparents. More in later years. I so well remember the hands of my grandmother and grandfather. Marked from hard work, never resting. Busy. No longer thin or slender – if they ever where. My motherΒ΄s hands are very much my grandmothersΒ΄. She too has been working hard, not living off the land, but no academic work.
    Did I tell you I’m planning to leave my teaching behind…This autumn, I will resign, retire, leave for new things to come. Family, old parents – I’m an only child. More than one of our friends have got seriously ill or died during the last years. There’s been much thinking and …maybe I can do something good for myself, for my family and my friends. i have told my employer already. Let’s see what lies ahead.
    I wish you a lovely weekend, dear friend.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Ann-Christine, that must have been a hard decision to make, but it sounds like it is the right one for you (and your family). A career is wonderful, money is great, but there is nothing more satisfying than having the time and the freedom to be with your family, and to do the things that you love. In your retirement, though, you will most likely find your hands are kept as busy as your grandmother’s and your mother’s. πŸ™‚ To begin with, you have your lovely orchids to keep them occupied.

      Reply
      1. Leya

        I hope you are right – and I believe I’m doing the right thing. As you say – there are many things for me to do. my orchids, my family, my garden (MUCH work to do there…neglected too long) and I also want to take up painting again. Photography of course…And keeping up the dear friendships made here blogging. We’ll see what happens…
        I wish you a great Sunday.

        Reply
        1. Leya

          O, might be foolish dreams of mine. I don’t have the good eyes I once used to have and my hand is not as steady as 20 years ago…

  3. Tiny

    Hands are beautiful, they tell a story. I can still remember my mom’s hands after almost 44 years. I like both Trinity and the photo poem. Would love to see more poems by you. For me writing poetry comes in waves. Right now it’s low tide and very difficult to write poetry, but I know my muse. She goes on vacation and when rested usually returns πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      So pleased you have memories of your mom’s hands to treasure. Maybe I will write some more poems at some stage but my poetry muse seems to need extremely long vacations. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  4. Clanmother

    My last memory of my father was holding his hand. Thank you, dear, dear friend. Vera Nazarian once wrote: “Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours.”

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      How special that you had that time together, holding hands. For both of you, it was the ending of one journey and the beginning of another. Sometimes, hands joined together are like bridges, helping us traverse difficult terrain.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Self-portraits again. πŸ˜€ I still haven’t found my Stieglitz. Whilst I search, I handle the situation with hands-off photography and a 10 sec timer.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am gathering strength each day. πŸ™‚ But it’s not a nice autumn day; we are being blown about like anything. I picked up about 2kg of feijoas yesterday. This wind has brought another windfall today. Good thing I like feijoas!

      Reply
  5. BEAUTYCALYPSE

    I love your poem, Gallivanta πŸ™‚ It’s funny how we see the features of your parents and grandparents, we seem walking puzzles made from our ancestors’ bones, body parts and soul fragments, we all have doppelgangers somewhere out there but yet we’re still our own unique creatures.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Nath. Nath who has some of the loveliest hands I know. πŸ™‚ Not a true doppelganger, probably, but when my sister and I have been apart for a long time, and I see her coming towards me, I always start and ask myself, “What am I doing over there?” It’s the strangest sensation. Takes a moment for my brain to sort out that it is my sister approaching and not me!

      Reply
      1. BEAUTYCALYPSE

        It must feel awesome πŸ™‚ Are you twins or just strikingly similar looking?
        There is a project starting to go viral with 3 people looking for their doppelgΓ€ngers. Really good fun. The woman of that trio has already found several!

        (Sorry for the delay, I have been offline a few days)

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Nath, I don’t believe we are all that similar. And there is a 7 year age gap between us. We sound a like more than we look alike (so people tell us) which is why it’s so weird when this doppelganger situation arises. She certainly doesn’t confuse me with herself! I have just read up about the doppelganger project; most intriguing. When I was about 10, I used to be ever so pleased when some of my family said I looked like Hayley Mills. I thought she was wonderful. I doubt I really looked like her, and I certainly don’t look like her now. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/fameandfortune/11216978/Hayley-Mills-Dad-helped-me-avoid-seventies-super-tax.html

        2. BEAUTYCALYPSE

          On a looooooosely related note: even the stars rarely look like their photos πŸ˜‰ He.

          An interesting effect worth exploring, I think, the doppelganger thing with your sis!

          Speaking of family resemblances, I do sound a lot like my mum. In fact people started mistaking me for her on the phone when I was only 6 years old πŸ™‚

        3. Gallivanta Post author

          Ha! Yes, I guess that is so about the stars. My goodness about your vocal likeness to your mother. I am assuming you and your mother both have youthful voices. πŸ˜‰ Getting back to hands, I liked watching my mother write her letters in the days when she used a fountain pen. I also liked her signature and tried very hard to copy it. Didn’t ever get it quite right and still can’t. Our handwriting, the product of our hands and mind, seems to be almost as individual as our fingerprints.

        4. BEAUTYCALYPSE

          Ha, wrong guess. We have deep, dark voices πŸ™‚

          Handwriting IS individual. Funny how we can get obsessed with the most random details that surround us. Personally I believe that it’s a very healthy and artistic obsession πŸ™‚

        5. Gallivanta Post author

          Sure! Do you think voice identification software could tell you apart? I am wary of voice identification but the bank keeps telling me it’s fool proof. Perhaps I should change my bank for one which knows that nothing is fool proof. πŸ™‚

        6. BEAUTYCALYPSE

          Excellent point with the bank, drove it home! πŸ™‚

          It’s not fool proof, absolutely not. It can fail if you have a flu, and I’m lacking data if it really can differ between truly spoken words and a very good recording.

        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Well, I don’t want to exhaust myself. πŸ˜‰ To get one wave to Canada I have to wave 10 times in NZ….long distance signal, you know, and the technology of long distance hand-waving is not yet perfected, so it’s not very efficient.

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          Meep! I confess, I really like playing at Queen. But I could try something even funnier if you would like. How about I try my hand at semaphore communication.

  6. Robbie

    beautiful “capture” of hands in words and photos:-) my hands are how I learn about my world + relate to my world…our hands are givers:-) beautiful post:-)

    Reply
      1. Robbie

        lol-that is what I did for 20 years-workshops with parents at the college educating parents about how children learn best-
        spot on! Yep, excuse for me to play as an adult in messy activities-LOL

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      There’s bound to be a little of your father there; maybe even something as tiny as the shape of a nail. Or maybe over time you will see different features coming to the fore. One must always be ready for the unfolding mystery as well as the history. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  7. shoreacres

    Hands, for my mother, always were a class issue. When I began doing manual labor, one of her greatest worries was that my lovely, flawless hands would be “destroyed.”

    In a sense, that’s exactly what happened. No more long (or even medium-long) fingernails anymore: sandpaper is the working woman’s emery board, and it does the trick! And after twenty-five years of holding a brush, my right hand has been molded into that shape. The tip of my forefinger cants off to the left at about twenty degrees. It could be mistaken for arthritis, but it isn’t. Function finally has determined form.

    I think Blake would be pleased, actually. It’s interesting that you chose “Auguries of Innocence.” Those words combine perfectly with the photos, of course, but on the other hand (!), “Auguries of Experience” might have a word or two for hands, as well. Perhaps there’s a second poem waiting?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      My siblings and I are the generation in our family tree with the least contact with manual labour. (Although for a time I did make a few pennies as an amanuensis. πŸ˜‰ ) We were encouraged to take on higher education and academic pursuits, but I don’t think we would have been discouraged if we had wanted to paint boats or plough fields. Getting one’s hands dirty, or making them work hard, was still an honorable calling in my younger days ( and that may well be the case now.) I smiled over your function-formed hands. As a youngster I was fascinated by the writer’s callus on my mother’s middle finger. I aspired to have one! By the time I was 12, I had rather a good one established. It didn’t ever grow as large as my mother’s,and,in recent years, with lack of handwriting, it has almost faded away. 😦 As for a second poem? Perhaps. I could see some potential inspiration in this piece from Blake’s Songs of Experience.
      Little Fly,
      Thy summer’s play
      My thoughtless hand
      Has brushed away.

      Am not I
      A fly like thee?
      Or art not thou
      A man like me?

      For I dance,
      And drink, and sing,
      Till some blind hand
      Shall brush my wing.

      If thought is life
      And strength and breath,
      And the want
      Of thought is death;

      Then am I
      A happy fly.
      If I live,
      Or if I die.

      I have a great deal of experience with flies. πŸ™‚

      Reply
      1. Steve Schwartzman

        Am not I
        A fly like thee?
        Or art not thou
        A man like me?

        Those lines by Blake remind me of Zhuang Zhou:

        “Once Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a fluttering butterfly. What fun he had, doing as he pleased! He did not know he was Zhou. Suddenly he woke up and found himself to be Zhou. He did not know whether Zhou had dreamed he was a butterfly or a butterfly had dreamed he was Zhou. Between Zhou and the butterfly there must be some distinction. This is what is meant by the transformation of things.”

        More at
        http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Zhuangzi

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I wish I fluttered like a butterfly in my dreams. Most of the time I seem to be buzzing around like a tormented fly. I had a quick search to see if WB had studied or was influenced by Eastern philosophy but couldn’t see any evidence via Google. Time for sleep now; to be a fly or a butterfly that is the question. Poor fly or butterfly who dreams they are me; that would be a nightmare for them. πŸ˜€

  8. Aggie

    Lovely topic. I am not very good with visual memory, and am surprised how well I recall my Mom’s and my Dad’s hands. And what love surfaces as I picture them. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Hands are excellent memory aids. At least, I believe so. πŸ™‚ And how lovely that your hand memories bring forth so much love. How I wish that were the experience of everyone.

      Reply
  9. KerryCan

    I’ve probably said to you before that I don’t know diddly about poetry but your words moved me and I love the minimalism that still captures a ton of meaning. And the photos of your hands are a perfect complement!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yay, that makes two of us who know diddly. My daughter is always telling me (trying to educate me!) about rhyme schemes and meters, and goodness knows what, and makes me feel incredibly illiterate as far as poetry is concerned. However, I tried, and I am pleased my few words stirred your emotions. πŸ™‚

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Leapingtracks. Some people seem to write poetry with ease. It’s always a struggle for me; not just to write poetry, but to get my head round the idea that I could even have a go at doing so.

      Reply
      1. MΓ©lanie

        @”a little fixated on hands at the moment…” – what’s next?… eyes?… πŸ™‚ I’d say you have classy and refined hands, pleasant to shake, I presume… πŸ™‚

        Reply
  10. Brenda Davis Harsham

    I see my father’s hands in mine, but I don’t remember my mother’s well enough to see her there. What a wonderful poem. Usually people see their family in faces, but you’re right, hands are very revealing, too. And that is awesome, the crooked little finger family, of which I am not a member. I do have a weird little toe, and so did my grandmother. LOL

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      My approach to the hand inheritance is very simplistic, in this post. There are so many other dimensions, such as your own, where the identity of the third party, or a long line of ancestors, is not necessarily, or easily, apparent. And then there is the issue of ‘what our hands do’. Are there gestures inherited along with the shape, or are these taught? For example someone might say, “Oh your hands are like your mother’s.” But that may mean in how you gesticulate and not in how your hands look. As for that weird little toe of yours! That reminds me that our toeprints are every bit as unique as our fingerprints. The other day I came across the footprint that was taken of my son’s foot the day he was born. He had long, thin feet, then, and he still does.

      Reply
      1. Brenda Davis Harsham

        So much of who we are is there from infancy. You can see the markers of individuality from the first few days. My first son was born, wailing to the heavens, and he still rages now that he nears adolescence. My second son was born, holding up his head, breech and determined. He still does his own thing, no matter the cost. All we can do is love them. πŸ™‚

        Reply
  11. April

    Lovely. I think I got short changed. My mom has beautiful hands, but the only hands that I can see that I inherited are my dad’s hands.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That probably helps when you are applying a sledgehammer to your DIY shower project. πŸ˜‰ Although I can see my father’s hands in mine, mine don’t have his strength. Or the strength he used to have before osteoarthritis set in. And, so far, I have escaped the osteo. It may come yet.

      Reply
      1. utesmile

        They are doing the final touches like putting sealant on etc. Been to see my mum in Germany for some days so had a well deserved break. Lots of sleep … which I needed. Hope you are well and happy! πŸ™‚

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Lavinia. Happily, for you (the singer) and me (the listener), the work of those poets has often been put to music. Isn’t it lovely that they combine so well?

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Sylvia. Isn’t it lovely to see/to recognise our own ‘lines’ in our children’s hands? I don’t see much of me in my daughter’s face or features, but I see some of me in her hands. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  12. Mary

    This is so lovely Gallivanta – it’s a beautiful poem, deeply sentimental. Wonderful pairing with the images of your beautiful flowers.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Mary. I am so enchanted with my camellias this year. I thought they would be ruined in the hailstorm last night, but they have survived and still look perfect.

      Reply
  13. jennyredhen

    Hi Gallivanta My mothers little fingers were small compared to her other fingers.. smaller than the normal ratio.. and they curved inwards from the top Knuckle. Mine are the same and so are my
    sons.. Did the electrician arrive?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh my gosh….maybe we’re related. πŸ˜‰ That’s exactly how my little finger is, and my father’s and my grandmother’s. I am glad to know we belong to the crooked little finger family. I have yet to meet anyone, outside the family, with that little curve inwards from the top knuckle. πŸ˜€ And no electrician, yet. Time to do some electrician chasing. Sigh.

      Reply

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