‘What are those blue, bumpy bits?’ she asks me, as I reach out with my hand to turn the page of the book we are reading.
‘Those are my veins,’ I say simply with a smile. I can see from her face that she thinks they are kind of ugly.
‘What are veins?’ she asks.
‘We all have them,’ I say, ‘They are like streams of life running through the body, with the heart at their source.’
I look down, past my older children’s young hands, to my baby’s hands. They grow by the day, like a sunflower in the height of summer. Where my knuckles protrude, she has only dimples. Where my veins bulge, hers are barely visible. I wear my heart outside my body, like the veins so prominent, feeling every raw emotion life passes my way.
My hands tell a story, like the lines gathering on my face. Her hands are so pure and smooth, like the first crisp page in a journal begging to have a story inked upon it.
I see my older children looking, with their keen, fresh eyes. They wonder if their hands will look the same one day, but never believe they really will. But my baby doesn’t see the bumps and grooves. She just watches the magic I weave with my fingers as I grasp easily at food to place in her mouth, make shadows dance on the wall and sing nursery rhymes with dancing fingers.
My mind takes me back to when I was a little girl sat in the back of my parents car, holding my Grandma’s hand. She always loved to hold my hand in hers. She’d admire our soft, pink skin with a sense of awe that I didn’t understand and on cold days she would ask to warm her hands in mine. I would study her hands with the same interest as a gripping book. Where my hands were simply pink, her hands were decorated with rings that glittered in the sun. Each ring told a story, much like each line on her loving hands.
My grandfather’s hand was strong and his grip on mine firm and certain. I would marvel at his hands tending the roses in his garden and working on a carpentry project in the garage. He would often have a cigarette balanced between his forefinger and middle finger, where the nicotine left a yellow mark.
I marveled at the blue veins rising over the knuckles on my grandparents hands, like a river in flood coursing around hills and over mountains. It was as though their lives were mapped out in a rich, textured tapestry upon their skin. Every touch they’d ever made imprinted in telling detail. The years of gentle caresses, combined with harder times.
I looked down at my hands again, feeling the warm, soft glow of my baby’s small hand next to mine and looked up to meet the gaze of my older children.
‘Your hands are like a book,’ I said.
‘As you get older they gather stories. The bumps and lines are like words upon a page, dancing their inky print across the paper. I have a few more lines, as I’ve more stories to tell, but I hope to collect many, many more.’
The inspiration for this post came from Sophie at ‘Little Gumnut‘, who included a photograph of her hand in her self-portrait series.