These Hands, If Not Gods

Haven't they moved like rivers--

like Glory, like light--

over the seven days of your body?


And wasn't that good?

Them at your hips--


isn't this what God felt when he pressed together

the first Beloved: Everything.

Fever. Vapor. Atman. Pulsus. Finally,

a sin worth hurting for. Finally, a sweet, a

You are mine.


It is hard not to have faith in this:

from the blue-brown clay of night

these two potters crushed and smoothed you

into being--grind, then curve--built your form up--


atlas of bone, fields of muscle,

one breast a fig tree, the other a nightingale,

both Morning and Evening.


O, the beautiful making they do--

of trigger and carve, suffering and stars--


Aren't they, too, the dark carpenters

of your small church? Have they not burned

on the altar of your belly, eaten the bread

of your thighs, broke you to wine, to ichor,

to nectareous feast?


Haven't they riveted your wrists, haven't they

had you at your knees?


And when these hands touched your throat,

showed you how to take the apple and the rib,

how to slip a thumb into your mouth and taste it all,

didn't you sing out their ninety-nine names--


Zahir, Aleph, Hands-time-seven,

Sphinx, Leonids, locomotura,

Rubidium, August, and September--

And when you cried out, O, Prometheans,

didn't they bring fire?


These hands, if not gods, then why

when you have come to me, and I have returned you

to that from which you came--bright mud, mineral-salt--

why then do you whisper O, my Hecatonchire. My Centimani.

My hundred-handed one?




Copyright � 2013 by Natalie Diaz. Used with permission of the author.  

About This Poem
"The images and hands of this poem began building during Mass one Sunday. The reading was about the laying of hands on someone, and I began thinking of how my own hands work upon a body. How they do things both beautiful and awful--to gently trace a throat in one moment, to hold it tightly in another--a type of sweet wreckery that makes me feel godlike and helpless all at once.

--Natalie Diaz

August 9, 2013
Natalie Diaz is the author of When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012). Diaz is currently working to produce a dictionary of the Mojave language. She lives in Arizona.
Most Recent Book by Diaz

(Copper Canyon Press, 2012)
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