I wonder what your hands do when they’re not hitting me.
Do they punch little ships into bottles,
slap stamps into albums,
strangle clay on the potter’s wheel?
Or am I your only hobby?
I wonder what your hands do just before they hit me.
Do the fingers curl into those rage-white snails,
or do they relax into those red sausages to slap and smack,
wary of the loud percussion,
but warier of the permissive silence?
I wonder how they feel after they hit me.
Do they sting,
or want to apologize?
Like I did.
I wonder if your hands bruise everything they touch,
if apples and bananas instinctively flinch,
if pears and peaches blanch themselves,
cowed by the prospect of ten-day tattoos?
I wonder why you say you know me like the back of your hand.
Is that where I’ve left my permanent imprint?
I watch your hands take out the garbage.
Melon rinds, chicken fat,
burnt garlic bread, week-old pizza,
and all the food that got thrown and then thrown out.
I see you cradle the trash across the threshold, nestle it by the curb,
and briefly wonder before I leave,
if I should’ve just stopped showering.
Kiyoshi Hirawa is a poet and writer whose work focuses on trauma, resiliency, hope, and providing a voice for the unheard, ignored, and overlooked.