My Hands by Nicole Yurcaba

 In Russian Sage’s tangled weeds, inbetween
                        two normally aggressive, cupped hands, the tiny reddish-brown toad                 
I trapped him,              shocked by their sudden gentility.

                        Unfeminine hands,         rough, scarred,            spider web-scabbed
                        slivering scratches criss-crossing long fingers and life-lined palms,
tanned brown               with Summer’s drought.

                        The fingers’ nails, clipped masculine-short and practical
                        for upcoming Fall’s wood-cutting rendezvous’, a world where manicured, painted nails
would chip          , crack, and break.

Despite unfeminine flaws, these hands have never in-pockets hidden themselves shamefully.
Though, once in a college class’ mentally-taken seven-second time out, I enviously observed the

pampered preppy girl     to my desk’s right, her hands:

                        manicured,   delicate,             uncharactered.     But what have they known?

                        The sparking nerve-rush of frozen water’s bite? An oak’s jagged biting bark-teeth?

No, her beauty-queen hands            have not known living.

                        Can her babied hands strenuously stack splintering poplar log after poplar log, ungloved?
                        Can her ring-adorned fingers expertly guide a Winchester hunting knife’s blade cleanly
through a downed deer’s belly in unforgiving November wind?

                        Have her princessed paws been pricked by skin-tugging blackberry briars in hellish July?
                        Or blackened by a lawn mower engine’s removed-only-with-pumice-soap grease?  And dug splinters
from one hand’s palm     with silver tweezers with the other?


                        Brutally flawed, yet never hidden from man, nor woman, nor beast—my hands. Why didn’t I
                        lean casually across the aisle towards the preppy girl, and drawl with my mountain twang “Your

hands are flawless,         but they haven’t lived like mine have.”

Nicole Yurcaba hails from a long line of coal miners, Ukrainian immigrants and West Virginian mountain folk. She is an adjunct instructor of English and Developmental Reading, substitute teacher and farm hand hailing from West Virginia currently pursuing her Master of Humanities in English at Tiffin University. Her work has appeared in print and online journals such as VoxPoetica, Referential Magazine, Rolling Thunder Quarterly, Decompression, Hobo Camp Review, The Camel Saloon, Jellyfish Whispers, Napalm and Novocaine, Floyd County Moonshine and many others. In life, she enjoys taking the unbeaten path, and usually exits the scene pursued by bear.

Bay Laurel  /  Volume 2, Issue 1  /  Spring 2013