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Lifecycle Of The Father’s Hand -- poetry by Erik Herrera


Stage One, Eudaimonia, Age Seven:


the reticent Father’s hand

squeezes tight onto his Son’s

– a sun-stained elegy on the isle of palms

tracing unto kin’s skin, a seed,

the pliant Hand into the pliant world.


Two shadows at the edge of the horizon,

our shoreline we’ve reached


Steady now, boy

This is the taste of freedom, you say


Your touch, once a warm caress

the inflection of a shapeless era

we sail farther from view

our names pressed into the face of the sand


In the creation of this oasis

have we forgotten how short it lasts?



Stage Two, Metamorphosis, Age Twelve:


The Father’s Hand is threadbare and pulsing

Frayed by the cascading light

A broken canvas reveals

The echo between Son and Father.


The exact moment a hand is used to strike

It makes an undying sound –

the wish to cease wishing

the realities we cannot live


(I’m not here. I’m not here. I’m not here.)


Shards of table glass

The blood-stained white walls


(I’m not here. I’m not here.)


a mother’s pain becomes a repeated ritual

His hands beat her, painting shades black and blue


(I’m not here.)


Until they echo hard enough in her skin

that this is true love.


(I’m not here.)


– but the lie cannot feed us anymore



Stage Three, Atonement, Age Fourteen


The Father’s Hand crash together

A prayer to cleanse his palms

On all four, his hands try to grasp the light

A call for a God who’s forgotten their names.


A lone monster beneath the dawn’s breath

even the bogeyman cowers in the darkness


Cross-armed, forgive me, he repeats


The cross necklace dangles from side to side

my fingers grow colder on the wooden pillars, watching


Unraveling his bandages, his fingers show old, iron-rich wounds


The bruises which confess

A generation’s worth of weight.



Stage 4, Death, Age —


The Father’s Hand withers

As life composes a last ballet on his old CD player…


I’ve recalled that the life cycle of a hand begins and ends with death

like a ceaseless artform, we’ll fall and rise again to make

the same sculpture, with separate faces


His fingers recall the heat of the Philippines, 1979


And the sorrow we’ve hidden beckons newer tragedy

newer sin, until our hate becomes our only

way to say how much we desire to let go and finally say “I love you”


The first light –


The hands are the silent messengers

The choice to embrace or to strike


The touch of his lover.

The touch of his Son.


One day, these shackles won’t define our names

mother, it's not your pleas that convince this

but the knowing that we can put an end to this violence


the beast, sated, a rest to wrath

and underneath these buried reflections

conceives the meaning of a caress



The dying Hand squeezes again onto his Son.

Revisiting the same beach. As the Father inevitably loses to time

he teaches a final lesson

The Father passes.

The Son lets go of the torch given.

Thus ends the lifecycle of the hand.


 

Erik Herrera is a Filipino-American, Goose Creek High School junior student who resides in one of those rural southern towns where their only popular landmark is a Waffle House. He's a member of the local BCA Creative Writing group. His favorite books are The Things They Carried and The Road, both of which make him profusely cry. Even though, Erik struggles on his writing endeavors, he works hard to show the world what he can offer.

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