This hand, he says,
It was an accident.
You do not understand
Poquito aquí. Poquito allá,
that’s how Dios meant it, ves, to be.
It doesn’t bother me too much
In fact, it gives me less to work about.
Less people who will trust their broken chairs to me.
Yet I can still these roses plant
Like that one standing at your feet
Las Siete Hermanas, for they always bloom together
like sweet sisters, seven in each bunch.
and I can still make chocolate, stirring strong,
the fingers do not slow me down
these two, nor this one sewed back on.
It’s funny, don’t you think,
How in those many years at Kelly Field
or even in the war, Dios solo sabe, so many
around me dead, or legs or arms just floating off to sea
but I came back—it must have been my mother’s prayers—
the only thing the worse for it my teeth.
The Navy took us perfect, sent us back a mess.
And yet, I had so much
aún every limb and digit there
my whole life full
and so I can’t complain.
This hand still does so much
for me—why just today
I planted ten small seeds
—cilantro for Mamá,
that woman loves it even in her beans—
and pressed the earth down on them soft
like her soft finger when she caresses me.
And picked the eggs out for my sisters
y sus nietos. They taste different fresh
like this, las de las tiendas no comparan.
Oh, but you want to know what happened?
Well, it’s not too bad, nomás que
Chuy’s neighbor still won’t talk to me
goes way around the grocery store
when he runs into me
I guess he’s scared to see.
Some people, sometimes, son así,
Se siente mal, because he was the one who said,
Reach down in there for me and git that wrench,
And then he flipped the switch too soon
Ya casi era tiempo de salir
I’d worked for him all day and he
was eager to pay up, clean up, go home
and didn’t wait to see that it was out.
Así, se acabó.
The doctors sewed this one back on
aunque los que no estan
molestan menos que este aquí.
Too bad it bothers him so much.
I still do all I used to ’cept for
Playing the guitar and carving wood.
The rest I do just fine, tho’ maybe not as good.
Y el pobre always uncomfortable with Mexicans
Y ahora peor.
Forgot to pay me for that day
or maybe scared to send the cash
for fear I’d ask for more.
Well, that’s okay, this hand still knows
to saludar, shake hands, y abrazar
and only yesterday, my baby grandson stood up
solito, holding on to these good fingers here.
Derecho, fuerte, unafraid.
Poquito aquí, poquito allá.