Ann Keiffer

Their Hands

Our new neighbor is giving a house-warming
party, welcoming us–her new neighbors–
and her old friends from an hour’s drive away.

Wine and champagne in crystal goblets. On
the table, a whole salmon perfectly-baked,
gathered ’round by potluck dishes of fresh
fruits and vegetables still alive with the radiance
of gardens, orchards, ranches, soil and sun.

As I greet my neighbor’s friends from an hour
away, I know instantly, from their handshakes,
that this is not the usual urban-suburban crowd.

These hands–men’s and women’s alike–startle
me, then humble me. Skin rough, snagged. Nails
and knuckles stained. Callouses, hard with work.

These hands pluck the olives from the branches,
fill the buckets, press the oil, make the brine.
They farm organic heirloom tomatoes and
ambrosia melons, prune the grape vines,
harvest the grapes and blend the wines.
They milk the goats and make the cheese.
They shake down the almonds from the trees.
They grow, cut, and bundle aromatic herbs,
gray-purple lavender, and all shades of greens.

These hands put me in touch with a tenderness
for all the rough hands of farmers and ranchers,
gardeners and growers on this green globe. I am
humbled with gratitude for the work they do,
for their sacrifice of an easy life to partner with
nature to feed us. In my mind I kneel to kiss
the cracked skin, bless each stained nail, in
reverence touch my forehead to the callouses.

Ann Keiffer
September, 2012

Photo Credit: txhippichic Flickr


About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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