I don’t know what to do with my hands

By Emma Pearson

April 17, 2024

14 September 2019

Writing Prompt from Megan Devine’s Writing Your Grief course, simply beginning with “I don’t know what to do with my hands”

I don’t know what to do with my hands
Or my arms, which hang, droopily by my side
I pluck up the courage to go into my office
Through which you had to go to get to your bedroom
You guarded your room so carefully and
I respected that, so much so that even now
I find I barely go in there

But I must, in time
I will need to “sort things out”
The thought makes me feel so sick –  
My hands will touch, feel, select, and
Mostly discard all of your
Precious belongings

Beautiful bras and knickers of which you were so proud
(As a 13 then 14 then 15 year old,
You had delicate and sexy undies
Way beyond anything I have ever bought for myself) 

Some of dad’s Fat Face tops
And even an old GAP hoody
That you requisitioned
After he died
Never giving your siblings – or me – much of
A chance of having them ourselves

They will be shared out more equally now
A painful redress of fairness in the shocking aftermath

Make-up and more make-up
Gloriously rich and diverse palettes of eye-shadow
A range of nail varnishes vaster than the rainbow
Eye brown thickener and darkener
Instruments for eyelash curling and
Shading and cutting and blending of
Eye colour

Maybe I do know how my hands will behave
When it’s time to pack you up and
Give bits of you away to friends
Preciously safeguarding other bits of you for myself
But throwing way too much of you out

My hands will clench and grasp at my heart and throat
Stroke firmly downwards on my chest and belly
Trying, in vain, to soothe the perpetual anguish
That pervades my body from head to toe

That’s what my hands do now

About Emma Pearson

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