My hands have touched so many things. The coffee pot on grandmother’s stove. Purple irises in her garden. Delicate thin petals. Long green stems. Midsummer dandelions. Creek mud. Broken corn stalks. Soil. Root hairs. The possibility of earth worms.
My hands have touched so many things. A month before he died, my father told me a story. He leaned over and told me how during the liberation of Europe, he’d stolen a fiddle off a mantel in Germany. He brought that fiddle home to Asheville, North Carolina, and played it for the rest of his life. He taught me how to play the guitar. A Gibson guitar I bought at Dunham’s Music House.
Now sometimes, just after I wake, I hear the old songs we used to play: Orange Blossom Special, Alabama Jubilee, Old Joe Clark, Sweet Georgia Brown, Down Yonder, Carolina Moon, and Deep Elem Blues.
“When you go down to Deep Elem put your money in your shoes, cause the Deep Elem women got them Deep Elem Blues. Oh, oh, oh, sweet mama, your daddy’s got them Deep Elem Blues.”
My hands have touched so many things, cracked sidewalks on 31st and Lexington, knock around hats, bills in my wallet, beer glasses at the Bar du Marché in Paris. The sea, the sand, the tides, the lone feather dropped from a wing. I will tell you now. It was a magic feather. I held it up to the light and became a new species, dancing across the edge of time.
I trust the rain and the spirits that slip between the drops. The moon was full the night of the midnight float down the Rio Grande, June, last year. Hundreds of beavers slapped the river with their tails. Shadows shimmered the rocks.
There must be something to silence, sitting in the void making room for my soul in the cashmere of nothingness, bliss, awakening. The rush comes. It is morning. And in the morning, I throw my skin into the air and hold the sun up with my eyes.
My hands have touched so many things: The can opener in the drawer, coffee grounds spilled across the counter, vines on stones, keys dropped on the floor, shoe laces untied, the dirty fork pushed under the plate. The sheets on the beds in the nursing home where I once worked. A thin young man, frame fast as lightning.
My hands have touched so many things. The washcloth I wiped the wrinkled men’s skin with. The pills they took to stay alive. One bite at a time, I fed them, holding the spoon just long enough for them to swallow, bitter or sweet, depending on the day.
My shifted ended at 3 pm. I peddled my racing bike, fast as I could, down Shamrock Drive, gripping the handlebars certain I would never die.
My hands have touched so many things.
James Navé is a poet of unusual talent and energy. He holds an MFA in poetry and his work has appeared in numerous journals, including the North Carolina Literary Review, Summit Magazine, River Oak Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Tightrope, South Carolina Review, and Poetry Slam Redux.
With Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, James has co-produced and co-taught the Artist’s Way Creativity Camp in Taos, NM. He currently leads The Imaginative Storm creativity retreats and writing workshops with fellow writer, Allegra Huston.
Read more about James Navé and his work.