Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Jun 2014
i am thirteen years old and i think love is a hand
because that was the first thing that made me feel good
and i think love is supposed to feel good so
love is the hand of a boy four years my senior and
love is a hand that holds a joint and
between puffs of marijuana smoke touches my face
before telling me i’m beautiful
and makes promises to call on the weekends while he’s
away at school
but i’m only thinking of whether or not i
made ninth grade honors english
and he tells me he hates his parents
for expecting him to go to medical school
after college
and for expecting him to become successful and
for expecting him to have money
and a family
and a white picket fence
and i wonder what it would be like for parents
to expect anything from me other than
to stop slicing at my skin and to please finish what’s on my plate
at dinner
but when he asks what i’m thinking about
i just tell him
“love is a hand”
and he looks at me funny with squinted eyes
and i know that his mother does not cry at night
trying to hide bruises from her daughters that already know
that love leaves burn marks on your skin
when love is a hand.

now i’m sixteen and
love is a hand
that shoots up when it sees me
in the hallway between fourth and fifth period and
i’m not one for hugs but when love is a hand
i’ll take two around my waist
to lift me until i yell to let me down, let me down
leaving my cheeks burning red
and flushed from embarrassment
because love is a hand that has never touched me
between my legs and *****
and love is a hand twice the size of my own
that dialed my phone number to tell me
“i asked her to be my girlfriend and she said yes”

i am seventeen and my skin has burned
from staying in the sun for too long
when we went to the beach in the middle of august
and played thumb wars for hours but
you always won because your love was a hand that
was much bigger than mine
and after you kissed me you told me about her.
you always left your windows open, allowing my skin
to freckle and for the sun to leave his
hand prints across my face because you were too
scared of how i’d be if you had left your own

so now i’m 18
and i’m crying
in the mirror because i can’t make out my memories
and i can’t tell which hand print belongs to you
so i cry until i can’t cry anymore and my mother comes into
the bathroom and looks at me in the mirror
and rests her hand on my shoulder
and silently says “i love you”
the way you always did on mornings over my stomach with
your love that was the last hand that burned my skin
on that tuesday night when we watched the ****** suicides
when you told me there was someone else
that there had always been someone else
and that i was the other.
and your hands went frozen and numb and stung
with frost bite to ease the burn that you had left across my belly.

now i’m nineteen and all the boys are the same
they all bite their fingernails
because they’re trying not to love so they chew and they gnaw
until their fingernails are bitten down and bleedy
and your love is a hand that slapped me across the face
because you didn’t have the nails to scratch.
i should have seen it coming when i saw you
bit your fingernails
or when i saw you didn’t touch me except
between my legs and
or when you got burns on your fingers from joints of marijuana
just like my shoulder blades in the sun
and when you got paper cuts all over your palms from
looking at photographs of people that you hate
and i can see that your love was never for me
because i could not love your hands.
and love is a hand.

now i’m 20 and my hands are cold
because in the winter they hide in mittens
hoping that the heat might burn them just a little bit
but it never does
and my love is just a hand,
hiding in a mitten hoping to be lit on fire.
Written by
Please log in to view and add comments on poems