His Hands as Alphabet
The boyfriend has large hands. Larger than hers. Slender fingers, piano hands, her mother would say.
Sometimes, the boyfriend’s hands are two ms, like this, mm, when he has to grab the thin of her upper arm, holds her tightly, you’re being unreasonable, sometimes she is unreasonable.
They are u and s when he maps the topography of her body, every small scar, every fading bruise, his hands are soft then, soft, soft, soft, and she is beautiful, he says, so beautiful.
They are ws when he holds her hand, fingers entwined, out on the street, sometimes I feel like you might fly away, and she thinks yes, I might fly away.
They are a bruised-fist o like the hole in the wall at just the height of her face, they are cupped cs as she pours cold wink water over them to numb their aching, I didn’t mean it, you see how I didn’t mean it.
They are ls pressed up against her hands, so small, her hands next to his, tiny, he says, look at your tiny hands, and together the church tower of their hands is like an inverted v or a capital N that hasn’t been finished.
They are little as clasped around her hands, little as while he kneels, while he cries, while he says it won’t happen again, it will never happen again, and she nods and nods, her small, small hands disappeared in his.
Cathy Ulrich has small hands, but long fingers. Her work has been published in various journals, including Puerto del Sol, trampset and Wigleaf.