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Poem: A Hand Not Held

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A HAND NOT HELD

By Katherine Givens

Originally published in Quail Bell Literary Magazine.

Empty.

I curl my fingers,

Hoping to feel the warmth

Of another’s flesh,

But I clutch at nothingness.

Empty.

I glance down at my fist,

Thinking perhaps I missed,

But I realize I am alone.

No one stands beside me.

No one waits for my touch.

No one belongs to me.

Empty.

But beyond the stage,

Beyond the realm of myself,

I see outsiders with expect faces.

All glance in to witness

The girl with a sense of self, of purpose,

But none stay long enough to give.

Empty.

I lift up my hand,

Reach for someone to hold,

But all sidestep my clasp.

Empty.

I show myself my palm,

I study the lattice of etches and creases,

The calluses born of hard-work,

The scar slashed across my thumb.

Complex, resolute, pained.

But no one to adore

These perfections and imperfections

I am marked by.

Empty.

I lift my hand, not held by another,

And caress my own cheek.

I offer my own comfort,

Take myself for who I am,

For I refuse to change for anyone

Not willing to prize my all.

Alone,

But waiting for someone

To fill the emptiness

With what I deserve.

Acceptance.

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