Daddy Kissed Your Hand
By Charles Fishman
Daddy kissed your hand
and I saw you as you were
all those years with him.
He kissed your hand, caressed
your cheek . . . I saw the clean lines
of your nose, your brow, the pale lids
that closed your eyes, the delicate
unbejewelled ears, your dry and immobile
mouth, and the skin of your numbed arms
--blotched and darkened--a precious
parchment only the non-existent gods could read
but which Daddy touched so tenderly.
I saw you, Mommy, how little your goodness
mattered to the powers that rule this world,
how little your enormous pain weighed
in the scales of time and justice,
how small a thing you were in the throb
and tick of the universe and yet how large
you loomed in Daddy's mind--how deep a mark
you made on the unarticulated graph
of the human.
When Daddy kissed your hand, I saw
your terrible hard death. I saw that its power
to harm would never be defeated. And I saw
that this man who had loved you with his full heart
loved you still and would live with all his memories of you
like the press of your wrist against his trembling lips.