Richard W. Reith

HER FATHER’S HANDS

A hush fills the darkened room.
In the bookcase against the wall
he can almost see the books
in the soft reflected light
of the desk lamp.

In the serenity of the room
and the peace in his heart
he studies his hands
under the light.

His hands...
The hands of a father.
Strong hands,
Loving hands.
A Daddy’s hands…

He remembers
her tiny fingers
wrapped around his pinkie.
Even then he was both refuge
and strength to her.
Even then.

He remembers
Her hand in his
Walking down a gravel road
Sneaking into the wheat field
together,
laughing,
walking down the road again,
hand in hand,
wheat stalks sticking out of their mouths.

She made him perceive the world differently then.
He saw bugs and bees and butterflies
Rocks that looked like frogs
Clouds that looked like puppy dogs.
Saw the world through a child’s eyes.

He remembers
his hands over hers
on the bat
teaching her to hit a softball.
Her wanting to learn:
His hands needing to teach.

He remembers
His hands on hers
comforting her through her latest heartbreak,
holding books
as he read her to sleep at night,
soft when she was hurt,
strong when she needed lifting up,
folded silently in prayer
when she needed help greater than his.

And he remembers
Today
Today his hand was on top of hers,
Her hand holding his arm
as they walked together one more time.

His hands,
always so strong,
almost too weak to lift her veil.

He remembers
his hands taking hers
and giving them to another man.

He remembers
the pride,
the joy,
bittersweet
as his hands started her
down a new path
into eternity.

Staring at his hands in the soft light
he smiled.
His job was done.
His hands would always be there for her
But another man
and God
would escort her now.

Almost as good
as the love
in her father’s hands.