Sunday, April 01, 2018

The Hands of My Father

This is another poem written, but not submitted, for the 2015 Golden Point Award competition. It was inspired by my father, a carpenter and construction worker .

photo by StockSnap at pixabay

The Hands of My Father

And I see my father
When he brings his hands
From lighting a cigarette
I see his calloused hands
That had hammered nails
And sawn wood in the noon sun
His eyes
Like the eyes of a beast
Staring deeply into the dark.
Today, under the light
Of a pressure lamp
He reads the day’s news
The paper all greasy and crumpled
From passing through many hands

And his hands
Like the hands of his ancestors
Who only knew the rough feel of wood
How the grain runs and cracks
How to fashion them to beams, struts,
Pillars, tables and stools
The companionship of measures and
Saws, hammers, planes and chalk lines
Took that cigarette to his lips
Holding it between index and middle
And in that brief moment
In that brief glow of light
I see what love and pride is

And even today after so many years
That he had left us
To join his ancestors,
When someone lights
A cigarette,
Cupping the flame in the palms
I see those leathery hands again.

Written 09/05/2015
Revised 19/11/2016

"as did my forebears before me
in America in Hong Kong
building railroads, harbours
hunched over camp fires,
drinking tea from grimy cups
swopping stories about home
in Canton half a life away."

-- dsnake1, Toolshed

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Blogger Sherry Blue Sky said...

I see him, too, Lee San, an honourable man, proud of his work, and the life he had made for his family. Those hands say so much about a life of hard work.

01 April, 2018 23:37  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

yes, he was. and i am grateful, and feel blessed, for it.
thank you, Sherry. :)

02 April, 2018 00:07  
Blogger Julian said...

Nice sentimentality in your writing.

02 April, 2018 00:13  
Blogger Robert Bourne said...

this sparked some images from the past for me... great write it spurs the reader to imagine..

02 April, 2018 00:48  
Blogger annell said...

A beautiful write, a tribute to your father.

02 April, 2018 00:52  
Blogger Neeraj Khanka said...

Beautiful homage :)
We can never forget our loved ones.

02 April, 2018 01:17  
Anonymous Donna@LivingFromHappiness said...

Amazing the images we have of our fathers and their generation who worked with their hands...seeing such truth.

02 April, 2018 05:46  
Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

I think this is a wonderful poem! (And a neat coincidence – perhaps intentional? – that it's posted at Easter, when many people celebrate the life and death of a famous carpenter.)

02 April, 2018 07:11  
Blogger Susan said...

"And his hands
Like the hands of his ancestors"

This transition opens so many doors. I see the hands, too, and the power there helps me know you better. That craft is an inheritence still. GREAT poem.

02 April, 2018 11:30  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


thank you! :)


i read the post at your blog and there were some amazing visuals from the past. :)


thank you! :)


we can never forget. :)


yes, it is truly amazing to see their craftsmanship and dedication. makes one wonder, is machines and automation a boon or bane?


no, it is not intentional. but it is nice to know of the thought. :)


he put a roof over our heads (he built it literally), built all the furniture in it.

just to let you know, i enjoyed reading your poem "Scarcity and Love", at your blog. :)

02 April, 2018 13:20  
Blogger brudberg said...

Oh this is so strong, especially the way you remember the hands cupping the cigarette... we always remember some things from our ancestors.

02 April, 2018 17:04  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

we do, Bjorn. there are some images that are firmly etched in the memories.

02 April, 2018 20:10  
Blogger Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is such a beautiful and poignant tribute to your father 💜

02 April, 2018 21:15  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

thank you, Sanaa! :)

02 April, 2018 21:51  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

It is the time of year we remember our family. Your poem indicates how much you love and miss your father. Beautiful and heartfelt tribute.

03 April, 2018 01:27  
Blogger Old Egg said...

I think we all should write poems of how we see our parents. This is a most beautiful and descriptive poem.

03 April, 2018 06:04  
Blogger R.K. Garon said...

I am sure he is proud of you.

03 April, 2018 06:30  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


yes, it so happened, on Good Friday, i was at the columbarium to clean his tomb and to give offerings (it was the Chinese QingMing period).


thank you! :)


well, i didn't follow him into the construction or carpentry business, but i think he was okay with that. :)

03 April, 2018 15:59  
Blogger ayala said...

Great piece!

04 April, 2018 08:24  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

thank you, ayala! :)

04 April, 2018 17:51  

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