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Papouli's Hands
Andrea Potos


His house in Roumeli is rubble now.
My aunt returned with stones—
I keep one, small monument
on my nightstand—streams of white quartz
pressed, glittering in grey rock.

In the nursing home—the vinyl chair,
metal-framed bed piled thick with blankets—
I go to him.
He is tapping his fingertips together—
a silent rhythm
I have watched all my life.

At 102, he says there are so many things
not to think about.
I imagine breadlines, his savings
lost, his son dead at three years old,
all that was never said.

I clasp his hands; they are always cool,
as if heat must rise from too
great a distance. His skin is smooth
as candlewax, thin as parchment
or the membranes of wings.
I trace their raised lacery of deep
purple lines, like the veins of an ancient country
I want to know.

From Yaya’s Cloth (Iris Press).
Used with the author’s permission.

Andrea Potos, who writes in longhand, is a longtime independent bookseller and the author of numerous books; her latest is Her Joy Becomes, from Fernwood Press. Andrea loves reading, travel, cafes, and walking beside lakes and on green trails—“of which there are many,” she says, in Madison, Wisconsin, where she lives. Andrea’s Greek grandparents and their spirit have been an abiding presence and inspiration throughout her life and poetry.





Post New Comment:
Ginny C.:
Beautiful poem.
Posted 06/18/2011 10:36 AM
wendy morton:
What a spare and moving poem. Lovely images.
Posted 06/18/2011 09:29 AM
heartbreakingly beautiful... Sharon Auberle
Posted 06/18/2011 08:45 AM
Beautiful! Esp. love that closing image/idea!!
Posted 06/18/2011 08:07 AM

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