I thought of calling this post “hand job” but decided the grief wasn’t worth the thrill of the pun.

Hands are quite possibly the first things I notice.

When I’m examining the photos of the Civil War Veterans and the millions (OK, hundreds of other shots) for the book — the hands are completely compelling. Among the Civil War shots is one of my great-great-grandfather Calvin. The shot is taken just after the war and he is dressed formally as most are in these pictures. His hands rest along his powerful thighs — I need to mention in civilian life he was a blacksmith. And oh how his hands reflect that. They are huge — the veins on the backs seem to ripple off the page, while his long fingers seem restless stretching along his legs.

Hands tell stories, they paint pictures, they soothe and arouse. Each stroke, slap and wave amplify and illustrate the words we use. Of course, the poetry that works so beautifully comes from Shakespeare. In one of the most delightful tributes to appendages ever penned, dear old Will writes……

Romeo & Juliet

[To JULIET] If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged

hand-y music: Always Feel this Way (Tristan Prettyman); Just ‘Cause We Can (Julie Roberts); Keep Your Hands to Yourself (Georgia Satellites); Show your Hand (Super Furry Animals — a cool little Welsh band); How to be Good (Minnie Driver – surprisingly rich voice); Slipping through my Fingers (from Mamma Mia! — such a mother/daughter song); Sometimes it Feels So Good (Animal Logic); Abracadabra (Steve Miller Band); Rise Up with Fists (Jenny Lewis); Spider Fingers (Bruce Hornsby); Rock Me (Liz Phair); Fingerprint Me, Baby (Evie Sands); Steer (Missy Higgins); Put Your Hands on Me (Joss Stone); But on the Other Hand (Koko Taylor); Put your Hand in the Hand (the Ocean — did everyone have to sing this as a kid?); You Still Touch Me (Sting); Touch Me (the Doors); I Want to Hold your Hand (the Beatles); Falling Slowly (Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova); and Time on my Hands (Coleman Hawkins)

To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give. –> Taisen Deshimaru

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