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.