The Power of Touch
by Hugh MacDonald
For a while at first
small hands fat with fabric
clung to their parents’ clothes.
going home words were:
yuck, and gross, and disgusting
as they remembered
moan and curse and whimper
the smell of sickness and of pee
old misshappen people
who speak their anger loud
and offer thin cool hands to hold
the soft, cringing hands of the living.
But children learn quickly
to see past the mask of faded youth
discover power in their fingertips
happiness hidden in an embrace.
Today they walk the halls
dispense handshakes like sacred blessings
call all the women the names
they have themselves forgotten
and reap a bumper crop of smiles.