In Massachusetts the road to Providence passes

Purgatory Chasm. You’re warned the way is hazardous,

rocks slick from the rain.


I think of other roads I’ve taken and all

who helped or hindered on the way. They link hands

to guide me through the boulders.


Their hands are all around me, encouraging,

stroking, clutching. Lovers touch my skin.

Gentle fingers press music from the keys.


My mother, as she holds me, hums a song. My father’s fist

shouts No. My sister gestures to a wider world

beyond our neighborhood.


Most are gone, far distant or forever. Remember

or forget, it’s all the same, to the ground,

the grass, the stones.


Hands signal hatred, acceptance, humility.

They open doors or turn the bolts. A touch

can pierce the armor around the heart.


At the Adventist church, everyone,

including us strangers, join hands in a circle

around the sanctuary.


May I lean on you when I stumble, will you push

when I give up, lead through the dark,

clasp hands beneath the moon?


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