“My Mother’s Hands” by Kristina Hayes

How you have spun whole worlds for
me between your fingers, cupped palms.
How you fed me, clothed me, taught me
the shape of trees and bodies and how
to brush my hair without hurting myself,
how I breathe only because you allowed
me to grow in your womb. Thank you for
the bed in your belly, mom. I am sorry for
the pale white scar on your abdomen,
for how I refused to let go, so they forced
you to let go of me first. I am sorry, too,
that I am not going to school to be a doctor
or a lawyer or some kind of engineer, but
your support is like the sun. Crucial. So
this is for your hands, those star-shaped
things that extend outward from your wrists,
that held me, that carried me, that love me.
You said I left scars on your hands, the
good kind that remind you of how things
were. When you open them and hold them
up to the light, I can see the faint outline
of a smaller heart in your palms. You smile,
close your fists. Tell me to never love
anyone without seeing their hands first.

“Love So Good That I Forgot to Say ‘Ouch’” by Kristina Hayes

What I know of survival is this:
how to adjust my body around the cool spots in bed,
the way my hair is never exactly right
when I leave the house for a hopeful second date,
the imprint of my bra on my skin after coming home
and letting my dress pool at my feet.
Sleeping, alone.
Missing you and missing you.
I eat olives and arugula standing up in the kitchen,
wearing nothing except underwear and pearls.
I do not recognize myself.
Being sad only makes me thirsty.
I drink two glasses of water, take an aspirin,
dance with myself slowly in the living room.
Everything comes back to me in moments—
flashes of your skin, the freckles on your chest,
your perfect wrists, a kneecap, the small of your back.
I peel away the sadness to get down to the pit of the thing
and can never quite manage to finish it.
My hands smell like oranges, clove cigarettes.
Pounds of sadness. I get out of bed. I run the bath.
Chocolate shavings and blueberries for lunch.
Little things, but I am handling it.
Yesterday, I almost called you to tell you that I love you,
but then I remembered I’m not allowed to say it anymore,
and it is awful. You are with me even when I brush my teeth.

Kristina Hayes, “Love So Good That I Forgot to Say ‘Ouch’