You have to earn hands like these:
Concealed in her blanketed lap
Like tiny wounded animals,
Their texture of cantaloupe husk
Or crusty snow heaped upon a curb.
They are hard-won.
Nine decades have chiseled gulfs
Better suited to marble than flesh.
Her rings, long left to rattle in drawers,
Leave swollen fingers unadorned.
Their ache binds her to the earth
when she wishes only to sift the past.
When alone does she hold them to the light
And curse the misshapen joints?
Or do they affirm too much to hate?  
You have to earn hands like these.

Michael Phillips has published short stories and poems in a variety of publications, including Philadelphia Stories, The Monongahela Review, and Stone Highway Review. He works as an editor for a nonprofit research institute and resides in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, with his wife.

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