My father’s in my fingers, but my mother’s in my palms.
I lift them up and look at them with pleasure –
I know my parents made me by my hands.
They may have been repelled to separate lands,
to separate hemispheres, may sleep with other lovers,
but in me they touch where fingers link to palms.
With nothing left of their togetherness but friends
who quarry for their image by a river,
at least I know their marriage by my hands.
I shape a chapel where a steeple stands.
And when I turn it over,
My father’s by my fingers, my mother’s by my palms
demure before a priest reciting psalms.
My body is their marriage register.
I re-enact their wedding with my hands.
So take me with you, take up the skin’s demands
for mirroring in bodies of the future.
I’ll bequeath my fingers, if you bequeath your palms.
We know our parents make us by our hands.
from The State of the Prisons (Carcanet, 2005), © Sinéad Seadhna Morrissey 2005, used by permission of the author and the publisher.