The Painting & Poetry Project 2021

Week 7: The Hands

Year 2021. What does it mean to you? To Addie and I, it is full of hope and promise. It is a turning point. The beginning of the end of a pandemic. The end of a volatile presidency and a return to sensible governance. The end of quarantines, isolation, and social distancing and a return to physical human interaction. We will once again congregate, gather with those we love, see them up close, touch and feel again … not in an impersonal virtual space, but in the very real and beautiful world.


The seventh theme for the new year is the hands.

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.

William Blake, from Auguries of Innocence


The Hands



Hands manifest the soul
and reveal its secrets.

One hand wields a hammer
and another wields an axe.
Hands build to work and to survive.

Hands keep the hearth fire burning.
Hands wrap the blanket about one’s shoulders
and wash the filth from one’s limbs.
Hands mend walls to stand strong against the tempest,
shut doors against the storm,
and open windows to welcome in summer breezes.

Hands make the home ready for the guest.
A hand tips the host,
and drains the glass.

Hands darn socks,
mend shirts,
and cobble boots.

Hands steer the horse and milk the cow,
herd sheep and pitch a tent,
thresh the wheat and grind the flour.

Hands build machines
that erect monuments of concrete, glass, and steel,
that build vehicles that catapult one through Earth and Sky.

Thrust your hands into the soft ground,
feel the worms turn the dark soil,
grooming the earthen womb for another year of life.

Hands are often calloused,
and fingers sometimes break.

One hand wields a knife,
to butcher and to kill.
One hands pulls a trigger,
and another mends a wing.

Hands tighten the noose around the murderer’s neck.
Hands heal the sick and wounded.
Powerful fists pummel the weak,
and threaten the innocent.

The finger points to points uncharted,
to faraway lands exotic and unknown.

Hands shield the sun from one’s eyes,
and wipe the rain from one’s face.

The hand clings to the cliff’s edge,
so that into the abyss one won’t fall.
The hand holds long and dearly onto things already gone.

Loving hands embrace the friend,
the father, the daughter,
the mother, and the son.
They embrace the young and old alike.

When my hand takes yours,
I mean to share your soul’s work.

I often trace your curves with the palm of my hand,
driven by desire over your sand dunes,
in the blinding desert light.
No trace of my journey remains.

I trace your lips
with my fingertips
and a wordless language passes, like breath, between us.

Hand gestures embellish the word,
the noble thought,
and the story of the heart.

Hands scribble words and symbols.
Words become stories; symbols become music.
The interior world of dreams and magic
is given life by the pen and brush,
which exult the hidden and shapeless,
by immortalizing the solid and seen.

Hands come together to pray,
to give alms and make signs,
to supplicate a forgiving or unforgiving God,
both for the now and the everlasting.

We lift our hands to the Sky,
in praise and disbelief,
in fear and gratitude,
in awe.

See this hand hold up the moon.
And this hand hold up the sun.
And this one hangs the stars.

Hands cover the faces of those who weep,
and bury the dead,
and light candles to keep their memories alive.


Brad & Addie

We want to celebrate 2021 with an outpouring of creativity and optimism!

We’ve selected 52 themes (one theme per week for the year), and each week for 2021, I will write a poem and Addie will paint a painting inspired by that theme.

This is the sort of big project that artists live for … where we can say what we yearn to say.  Big picture stuff. Heart wrenching stuff. Expect surprises, love, and a passion for life.

Check Out Addie’s Instagram Account:

Check out Addie’s art studio — Studio Alchemy:

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