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My Father's Hands
Kristin D'Agostino


Swish swish
went the brush,
a dab of polish and
swish swish,
the smell of leather and pipe tobacco,
burgundy wingtips polished till they shined.
Scratch scratch

went the rose’s sharp thorn
maneuvered into cracks of an ancient coin,
scratch scratch,
back and forth,
Lady Liberty’s copper face
gleaming beneath centuries of grime.
Rub rub
went the sandpaper
across the oak table,
rub rub
went the polishing cloth,
years of meals together
basking in wood’s amber shine.
Shine shine
went your face,
shine shine
like a child’s,
at the sight of
some old thing,
your hands again
made beautiful.

© by Kristin D’Agostino.
Used with the author's permission.


Kristin D’Agostino is a journalist, poet, and photographer who finds inspiration in her Italian roots, walks in the woods, and daily doses of poetry (most recently Ruth Stone's.)  The writing gene runs deep: Kristin’s mother and grandmother were both writers and Kristin herself has been “filling up notebooks,” as she puts it, since the fourth grade. Currently based in Asheville, North Carolina, Kristin is working on her MFA. Learn more about her at, and see some of her photography at



Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
A wonderful tribute!
Posted 06/20/2023 05:31 PM
years of meals together basking in woods amber shine so evocative and so eloquent... a beautiful tribute to your father
Posted 06/19/2023 03:25 AM
Thank you everyone for your comments. I had forgotten this poem would be published today, and found it in my inbox. My dad's been gone for five years and yet his presence lives on in my memory and in this poem. I"m grateful for your kind words and to have you all to share it with.
Posted 06/18/2023 06:53 PM
Lori Levy:
Great details. Beautifully expressed.
Posted 06/18/2023 03:43 PM
I love the way that the poem gives us a soundtrack to its visual images. Also, the construction of it fills me with admiration.
Posted 06/18/2023 02:02 PM
I remember wingtips.
Posted 06/18/2023 11:04 AM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I loved this touching visual poem. How beautifully it captures the essence of all our fathers by describing what their hands can accomplish. Love these lines: Shine shine went your face, shine shine like a childs, at the sight of some old thing, your hands again made beautiful.
Posted 06/18/2023 10:49 AM
Oh, fathers. Warm poem to warm up to Fathers Day.
Posted 06/18/2023 08:56 AM
Isn't it the ordinary things that take on deep and lasting memory gems, as one takes the time to reflect on them? Nicely done, Kristin.
Posted 06/18/2023 08:54 AM

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