You take that time

to tie your wrists back 

together, knotting

the bones securely,

fingers aflay with the

tightness of grasp,

a ball of skin and sinew

scraped back on itself,

convulsed in the pulse

of blood still trying to

pump its way along 

the veins that wend their

wishes around, over, under

the tangle of tendons that

you force ever further

into a mash of


It hurts how I sit here

and suggest all the ways

you could untie yourself,

a bit of light here, a bit of

love there, and yet every

day I see you back at it again,

biting your lip in your 

concentration at weaving 

knuckles through to weld 

with nails and cuticles

drawn back as you stretch

yourself into a shape no

hands should ever suffer.

There is something so sad

about watching you hunched

there, knees to your chin,

tongue poking out at the pressure

of your teeth sinking down

into its slick surface as your 

eyes track your fingers’ progress

into melding palm to palm,

and there will be no “on the 

other hand” in your case as 

as we can all see, you are not

giving yourself hands or even a 

hand at all, for who needs 

feelings when you can have

one big fist?


Elisabeth Starr