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Once upon a bright afternoon

It was the hands

Shaped like talons

Those hands, they clawed their way

Through me,

Tore at my face

Tore my afternoon

Tore my fairy-tale

Tore at the ribbons of my life,

Tore my once upon a time,

Tore the afternoon.

 

Then I saw other hands,

Clinical hands,

Sanitized hands,

Hands meant to help,

And yet they pointed, accusingly

They pointed

At me

You should have raised your own hands, they said

But I did, I did, only they didn’t see

In the shadow of the hands that tore my afternoon.

 

Another pair of hands

Strong hands

Long hands, belonging to

The long arm of the law:

Tell your story,

I faltered, stumbled in the telling.

They clapped their hands impatiently

Tell your story! Don’t mumble,

Tell!

Tell!

Their hands became a rhythm,

With no room for time

With no room for torn afternoons.

 

I learned to huddle in the dark

Away from afternoons

Away from hands

I learned to swallow tears

To ignore the sound of my own tearing heart

My heart; not breaking, but tearing, shredding.

 

But you

Have taught me

That some hands

Can be kind,

They can help my hands to build

They can mend my torn memories;

They can’t bring back that torn afternoon before it was torn

but

They can point to new afternoons

And I,

I,

I shall see those new afternoons

And make them mine.

 

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