Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: The Hands

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

G. Hennessey of Lisbon chose this favorite entry from an earlier column, citing the “tiers of time” in Bruce Guernsey’s poem, which oscillates “between day and night, coolness and warmth, plans and dreams.”

The Hands by Bruce Guernsey

The only time we touch now
is in our sleep, as if our hands,
finding each other,
have lives of their own.
Joined to our surprise every morning,
they are full of longing,
like a one-armed man
trying to pray.
We pull them apart
starting the day, yours 
to your work, mine to mine:
purses, pockets, change.
How they love the night,
the cool of linen, the underside
of pillows—sneaking out,
meeting without us in the dark.
Theirs is a language we’ve forgotten,
a way of speaking now their own:
touching, whispering,
making plans.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2012 Bruce Guernsey. Reprinted from FROM RAIN: Poems 1970-2010, Ecco Qua Press, 2012, by permission of Bruce Guernsey. Please note that the column is no longer accepting submissions; comments about it may be directed to special consultant to the poet laureate, Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: More Poems from Maine, a brand new anthology collecting the final two and a half years of this column, will be available late this year from Down East Books.