Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
The Palms of Their Hands

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I.
"You fit in my palm, you were that small."
You always showed me your hand,
showed where it ended and the wrist began.
It must have been important, that babies
be larger than the palm of a father's hand.

II.
He fed you your first bottle
and changed your first diaper
while I was recovering;
he was there beside you.
You were barely longer
than the palm of his hand.

He watched you sleep and held your hand.
Simply content to be your dad
he laid you naked on his chest,
tucked you both under a blanket
knit by someone else's hand,
kangaroo care for the companion dad,
quiet and warm against curling hair.

III.
He's the one rocking you,
there in the corner.
I hear him as I approach,
his voice soft and quiet,
humming melodies of services
written by ancestors in centuries past.

The only words that come easily
in a place like this are words
in a language you hardly know, words
to cover you like a prayer shawl, words
like lines on the palm of a hand.


Emily Ruth Mace is a writer and digital humanities administrator. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Vitae site, Killing the Buddha, Religion Dispatches, and elsewhere. She holds a Ph.D. in American religious history from Princeton University and is the author of several articles and book chapters on religious liberalism in America. She lives with her husband and two small daughters outside of Chicago.


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