I looked at my hands today; looked at the backs where used to be tight, smooth skin browned by the sun and wind. Now I see scars of incidents and indescretions hiding amidst wrinkles and loose skin, and where there was once subtle lines of blue veins, the veins now seem to be larger making rather ugly road maps on the backs of my hands. The one ring I wear seems considerably looser than just a few years ago.
I turn my hands palms up and the callouses once there from the constant use of the tools of creativity and manual labor, cameras, paint brushes, hoes, rakes, shovels, hammers and saws and such have disappeared leaving smooth skin with faint scars from barbed wire and other foreign objects that spilled my blood.
I look at my hands now and I wonder if traces of the baby I once held, the puppies, the dogs, cats, horses and cattle, the seeds of flowers and vegetables that brought food and satisfaction to my table, the dirt that grew those plants, the wire of baled hay that left my hands sore and tired are all still there. Are the traces from the few hugs from my Mother and Father still there and the girls of my youth who tolerated my enept exploring and later of the women who allowed my caresses.
Do flower petals and honey leave marks? Or tears.....do they not only leave a mark on my heart, but on my hands as well? Where is the odor of oil paint smeared on fresh canvas......of darkroom chemicals after hours of creating the perfect print? Where is the odor of grease and oil and blood and sweat, and fear and happiness?
My hands have lived, created some things of beauty, left marks on the Earth and on people. but now they just look old and tired. But I'm not through; I can still touch, I can still feel the textures of life. I can still lift, and pull and push and I can still show love with these hands.
No, I am not through.
Bob Stepp 5-15-11