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By Shawna Norton

According to the CDC: “Wash your hands often to stay healthy”

I have always been obsessed 

with hands

because they tell stories.


At each encounter, I read:

my eyes wander

from theirs to examine lines

for wear. Do these hands work? Do

they hold? What do they seek? 


My own hands bear burns

and scars, they peel 

from washing glasses and spending 

too much time in dirt. 

They are callused, my fingertips,

the crests of my palms. They long

to be tender.


Now, hands feel like weakness,

or worse yet, weapons.

I watch warily where they go, 

what they touch--

what they might give, or take.


I don’t want them to remember.

I scrub, long, but not long enough,

unable to erase the marks of the day. 


Shawna Norton received her MA in English Literature from the University of Vermont. She teaches middle school English and History at the Susan Odell Taylor School. She lives and works in Troy, NY. 

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