Olive Ritch, The Hand Game


Let not thy left hand know

what thy right hand doeth.

And let not your mother

hide her secrets in silence,

for only she knows the stories that lie

in the lines of the palms

of your hands. She knows

but cannot speak the words, tongue-tied.

Slumped in her chair,

she takes from your hand

the medicine, three-times daily

and smells your nicotine breath

when you tuck her in at night

before switching off the light. Sometimes

you creep back in and your mother knows

the colour of your filial love

from the tone of the touch

of your Hyde or Jekyll hand.


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