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?