Disclaimer: The concept of this form of Immortality, Watcher's and Joe Dawson belong to R/P/D. I have used many lines from the poem "A Pair of Hands" by Gerald Stein without permission. I am making no monetary gain of this vignette, so don't sue me.
This is my submission to the Poetry Wheel. Lucky, lucky me, Amand-r gave me the poem. LOL! But she also gave me the idea to begin with. I was going on a Caspian mass murder tangent until she softly mentioned how the last three lines of the poem struck her. And the rest they say, is history. Also, thanks to my Kindred Sister, Gillian for all her support! Love ya Babe!
As like all other Wheel's this is un-beta'd. (Don't you love the new words that come with the puter) Any and all mistakes are mine alone and I will welcome ALL comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find the complete poem "A Pair of Hands" at the bottom of the vignette.
It is late and I am alone. Reflected movement behind the bar catches my attention. That is a pair of white hands I see floating in the mirror, fingers on the left are blunt and rounded, the ones on the right are raised as if in thought. My hands once had a soul and they search hard to remember it. Our age is weak and vague, my hands and I. Too often we see the sympathetic smiles of those around us. I push the thought aside and study my hands.
Aged now, they are almost like gloves. The lines are gone, they are abstracted. The suffering is in the creases, somewhere in the folds underneath the knuckles, or somewhere in the spaces over the fingertips. My hands are heavy and permanent with memory. There is a history both of terror and loathing, pain and pleasure.
My hands once made joyful musical pleasure so pure that ten times ten thousand angels' voices rose in harmony, singing in exaltation. The angels' are silent now and pain is a constant reminder of what once was. I hide the pain, it only brings more of the sickening sympathetic smiles.
I see my eyes in the mirror, surrounded by wrinkles, wounded and bloodshot. They are set deep in my face, above my mouth: the mouth with two great trenches, and two great cheeks beyond the trenches, the mouth with a curled smile. Is that smile for me I wonder?
Have I become a bitter old man? I pause - saddened. I've lost much because of the Watcher's - a daughter, family, friends, years of my life. I finally understand what Christine had been trying to say. Would that I had learned it sooner, when I still had choices. My first 40 years were an agony. I lived by touching and holding. I lived with my hands. It was my ruin. But has it made me bitter? I don't believe so. I've learned not to speak of these regrets; it only brings sympathetic smiles.
I loving run my hands across the scarred wood of the bar. It's an indelible reminder of my mortality, but it doesn't scare me as it once did. The end is drawing near for this old body and me, we are anxious to be gone, to leave the pain and regrets behind. We stay too long in our skin as it is. This too I keep to myself; it would only cause pain. I see my remaining friends sympathetic smiles and have my own to return.
I have questioned what my gravestone will read. I'm hoping it will simply say, Joe Dawson - Friend. The question brings about their grumbling. I'm not deaf - I yell at them - I'm an old man. I make a final request - an Irish wake. Their laughter is tinged with fear for me and I don't understand. I don't envy them in their immortality, but I do believe they envy me my mortality. I know what life holds for me. So it is in this that I am able to return their sympathetic smiles.
Is the reflection in the winter of one's life a good thing? I don't know. I know that my life has had a beginning, middle and is now coming to an end, its cusp. I know what will happen to me. I don't have to worry about losing my head to a sword-wielding enemy or worse, a sword-wielding friend. I will die in my own bed. There is comfort in that. More comfort than any of the remaining ones will find at the end of their lives. They need the smiles more than I do.
With as much grace as this old body can muster, I walk slowly about the bar one last time. I can feel the dawn rapidly emerging and there is a moment of panic when I realize this is the end for me. I've already dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's. There will be questions and arguments no doubt, but it's better this way. In the end they will concede to me, shaking their heads, and smiling their sickly sympathetic smiles.
A Pair of Hands
By Gerald Stein
That is a white pair of hands I see
floating in the mirror, fingers on the left
are blunt and rounded, the ones on the right are raised
as if in thought. They are almost like gloves,
the lines are gone, they are abstracted, the suffering
is in the creases, somewhere in the folds
underneath the knuckles, or somewhere in the spaces
over the fingertips, I choose them this time
over the mouth, the mouth with two great trenches
and two great cheeks beyond the trenches, the mouth
with a curled smile, and I choose them over the eyes,
surrounded by wrinkles, wounded and bloodshot, The hands
are permanent and heavy, they are the means
both to pain and pleasure, thus the ancient
Peruvians buried them inside their clothes,
thus the Arabs cut them off and fed
them to their dogs.
Our age is weak - and
vague - in what it does with hands,
there is history both of terror and loathing.
My first 40 years
were an agony.
I lived by touching and holding.
It was my ruin.
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