I am From the Church of Human Hands

by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

the Hands that tighten the lug bolts on rotated tires, 
the Hands that picked the hen-of-the woods 
(and not death caps) I buy to make wild mushroom soup, 
the hundreds of steady Hands clasping steering wheels on a highway, 
the Hands of Lucille Clifton, Emily Dickinson, and Kay Ryan
the Hands of the surgeon who replaced my worn knee bones with titanium
the Hands of the man unearthing and fixing the water pipe to the house
the Hands of the engineer who designed the bridge I drive over every day
and the Hands of the ones who built it
the Hands of the pharmacist who counts out the right pills
the Hands of the assembly worker who attached my brakes
the Hands of lighthouse keepers, beacons in the fog and darkness
the Hands of my sisters who make beautiful things
the Hands that pick up the injured, move them to safety
the Hands of the women who forge paths through the uncharted
the Hand that holds a flaming torch on the edge of a country
the Hands that cooked the red Thai curry I ate last night
the Hands of my father, strong, warm, and kind
the Hands that planted daffodils, peonies, and blue irises I see each spring
the Hands that met me out of the womb
the Hands of the woman who cuts my hair
the Hands of Georgia O’Keefe, Mary Cassatt, and Picasso
the Hands of the rescuers after an avalanche
the Hand of the man in the ambulance who said, We’ve got you
the Hands of my mother, making me clothes, sweaters, and chicken cordon bleu 
the Hands of my students, raised and ready to speak
the Hands of my children, so small at first
the Hands of you, how grateful I am—
I have faith in what Hands do.

Picture this scene in the Church 
of Human Hands—our cupped Hands
holding holy water and maybe we Hand out 
Hand-outs, and Hands-down,
everyone gets a Hand or lends a Hand. 
Hand over Hand, we rise, do our jobs, 
hold Hands or clap our Hands, pressed 
together—our best, close at Hand.

Published in Rattle (Poets Respond) March 8, 2020

Writing Prompt: 

Capture a moment in nature

Find a poem that captures a nature moment (“A Blessing” or “Wild Geese”). 
Make a list of times where something magical or fearful happened in nature to you. 
Pick one that calls to you and write down several details about the experience.
Now read the poem. 
Pick a line (five words or fewer) from the poem to weave into your piece. 
Create a twelve line poem that includes the phrase from the poem along with weaving in the details you remembered—be open to the power of surprise.


Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Sarah Dickenson Snyder has written poetry since she knew there was a form with conscious line breaks. She has three poetry collections, The Human Contract (2017), Notes from a Nomad (nominated for the Massachusetts Book Awards 2018), and With a Polaroid Camera (2019). Recently, poems appeared in Rattle, The Sewanee Review, and RHINO. A 30/30 Poet for Tupelo Press, she was accepted both times she applied to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. One poem was selected by Mass Poetry to be stenciled on the sidewalk, another nominated for Best of Net 2017. https://sarahdickensonsnyder.com/