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2022 Issue  >  Poetry  >  A grandfather's hands

My Smokin' Mechanic.jpg
"My Smokin' Mechanic"
by Jeff Weiland

A grandfather's hands

Kelsey Bigelow

tell more than he ever will 


Don’t look at them too hard or you’ll get lost 

on the surface



see how his scarred and re-scarred thumb tells

of the times he cut himself


and his calluses talk

of the years spent brushing grass from headstones

which is to say 

he put himself through pain 

if it meant providing    for family


His dirt-covered fingers search arrowheads

for his birth family’s ancestry 

aweing over Cherokee paint pots and drill bits

while his soil-covered nails relive the years he tended garden 

picking green beans for that night’s dinner

Which is to say

he let his hands find

because dirt has always

been washable


in mess

Wrinkles on his wrists still carry his wiggling   giggling grandbabies 

who rode along as he mowed the lawn

and the wrinkles on his wrists still polka Grandma around the kitchen

as if their teenage care-free never left


is to say

a grandfather’s hands tell of more than a single lifetime

so long

as he lets them speak

for him

Kelsey Bigelow is a professional poet who graduated from UW-Platteville in 2017. She has since self-published her debut chapbook, Sprig of Lilac, in 2018, released a spoken word album, Depression Holders and Secret Keepers, in 2021, and has been published in Backchannels Journal and Z Publishing House. Find Kelsey:

Jeff Weiland graduated from UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County in the 1980's and has always enjoyed photography. 

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