Friday, January 23, 2015

Hand over hand

She holds the hair comb awkwardly
Foreign to her fingers
Though they've met a hundred times

Furrows her brow into the mirror
And winces back the tears
As she drags it
Through a stubborn knot

She wants to get this
Wants to do it herself
But her hands do not remember
The way I've taught her
Once, twice, twenty times

Tears well up
Forgetful, unruly hands
Will not comply
Comb clatters to the floor
And she sighs

Most days, to be honest
I want her to move quickly
Want her to be ready
We're running late
Wishing she could do this by now
And I sigh
And find patience

Pick up the comb
Put it into her fingers
"Like this, remember?"
Put her other hand on top of her head
To hold the hair down
"Here, so it hurts less when you pull,

She nods
Furrows her brow into the mirror again
Wanting to move her hand
Her tongue moves
She shakes her head a little
Shakes it off

My hand guides hers
Hand over hand
"Pull down gently, like this"
"And back up again"
"Start here"
"And back down"

Up and down
Painstakingly slow
Hand over hand
And I wonder if she'll ever remember

I used to wonder if she would ever
Get herself dressed
Learn to read
Be able to make sounds
That resembled the English language

It was painstakingly slow
Hand over hand
Consonant by consonant
Weeks, months, years
Until friends began to say
Hey, we can understand her now

That determination on her face
Brows hunched
Tongue groping
Up and down
Hand over hand
Day after day
She is used to fighting
Used to trying again
Maybe one day
She will get it

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