Once upon a bright afternoon
It was the hands
Shaped like talons
Those hands, they clawed their way
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,
Hands meant to help,
And yet they pointed, accusingly
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
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,
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.
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
They can point to new afternoons
I shall see those new afternoons
And make them mine.