This body
Holds the memory
Of hands
I have never scrutinized
But the snapshot
Of thin, blue veins on pale
Is more vivid in my mind
Than the curve of an old lover's penis
Or the crowded storage room we'd squeeze into
for poetry readings
when I was 15.

These hands
Two images branded
Onto beer-soaked brain
The way I know them
The same way I remember
The phone number of my best friend in the 6th grade.

I do not know
If these hands
belong to a vegetarian
Grew up in a reform or orthodox household
Or got barmitzvahed when they turned 13.
But I must have dialed Cristina Warnar's phone number
500 times.

I don't know
If you,
Owner of the hands,
Have philosophical conversations
with your cats,
Shower when you get up in the morning,
Or want to be cremated when you die.

I am reminded
Of two Lithuanian proverbs
The first:
'Never complain after 45 minutes of cunnilingus'
Is good advice.
The second
Warns against men with soft hands
That mold spirit like clay
Genteel touch
Leaving microscopic change

I don't trust
Men with soft hands
But my body aches
Away from proverbs
Tangled sheets
Hold my body
Hold the memory
Of hands
Brain calls out names
       Is it my name or yours I'm calling?
       Your name
       Or mine

       I'm calling?

Is a thing to cling to
Map of blue veins
Red rivers in pale hands
Suspended like
Unsung Passover hymns
A phone number dialed
500 times

It sheds now
Flesh falling off
Like snake skin
There will be no hands
Just a blue map
Carrying blood
An old song
Melody without words.

Harvey is a San Francisco based poet and performance artist.

More poetry:

Jealousy Matt Morris
July, 2002

dick Matthue Roth
June, 2002

Josh Ring's Track Meet Josh Ring
May, 2002

Experimental Values Shaun Hanson
April, 2002

mako shark insanity! Adam Sontag
March, 2002

Deep, Jewish Pain Andrea Liu
February, 2002

Damp Memories Joseph Dobkin
January, 2002

Can you write better?
Submit your poem to Zeek by clicking here.

August 2002

jay's head
josh ring