My grandfather’s hands lived for sixty odd years.
They had no forced smile behind which to hide their pain.
Cracked, calloused and stained with blood and tears.
Black, coal dust roadmaps replacing sunken veins.
I held his weathered hand just once in my childhood years,
reflecting on the residue of soot and tobacco stains.
Black-brown arcs of earth behind each broken fingernail.
I hold out my upturned hands and stare, steadfast,
at where once- hardened skin now smooth and pale.
They hide all evidence of a different, distant past.
Their privileged surface tells another tale.
No coal to scrape or iron-work to be cast.
No splintered placards on picket lines to sail.
These pampered hands belie a bloodied past.
Richard Green is a northern wordsmith, living in self induced exile in Plymouth. Richard cites Seamus Heaney and Sean O’Brien has his literary heroes and is fortunate to have been taught by the latter. Richard’s work shameless carries echoes of his northern roots, fused with an eye for the obscure and a love of people watching.
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*Featured image courtesy of artist Toby Penney*