Sylvia Adams is the winner of the latest edition of the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award with her poem Hands, A Choice. Adams is the author of the novel This Weather of Hangmen, and the writer of award-winning chapbook Mondrian’s Elephant, (Cranberry Tree Press). Titles to her name also include Dinner at the Dog Pound and Sleeping on the Moon, which was the runner-up for the 2006 Lampman Award. We present the winning poem.
Hands, A Choice
I reached over and held the hand of the woman next to me and prepared to be a dead man: Mark Hood, passenger, U.S. Airways Flight 1549, ditched in the Hudson River after striking a flock of geese.
This isn’t a poem about choices, yet
they assert themselves as if they have
something to say about love or hands or
distances or falling. Every breathing thing
makes choices: to salt or not to salt, walk away or stay;
even the cat burdened with where to sleep.
Mundane and blameless or primed to blame another.
This could be a poem about hands.
How they free you from random choicelessness,
rise autonomous in storm or beatitude:
consider that sad flapping fish, the politician’s hand –
your hand closes on his and shakes because
you still live at home and your folks are dyed-in-the-wool;
consider the soft-pedaled music of childhood’s
Sunday hands turning hymnal pages
or the back-row matinee hand, blind and hopeful.
These hands know what they’re doing.
And your mother’s hands knowing when to let go,
refusing to throw off thin blankets to ring for the nurse.
Or your hand reaching for mine straining to understand
that I had no choice when I left, no matter what
your psychiatrist says. Options are never
something one can hang onto. Our hands are already full.
What would I do if a stranger grasped my hand
as we plunged earthward, no time for introductions
only a future-flash of sifted bones, aged and splintered,
trowelled from the crusted earth,
archeologists fashioning our histories:
lovers, they say, knowing us better than we knew ourselves
for perhaps we were or would have been
in the great unanswerable scheme of things:
two hands joined, a lifetime of flesh pressing
falling in, onto, over, down, a whole
cargo of love stacked and steaming
and no one else to give it to.
For more details about Sylvia Adams’ writing visit www.sylviaadams.ca.
Entries close 31 August for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. For more information and to submit visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/creativewriting.
1. Andrew Harrison, 6141M. Aesthetica Art Prize Painting and Drawing Finalist. Courtesy of the artist and Aesthetica.
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