Jon Tait has sent in this prosepoem in response to The Things Our Hands Once Stood For, by Martin Hayes.
by Jon Tait
The lines of hands get blackened by oil and dirt and produce a map of work, of chipped nails and grime and honest graft, of green Swarfega fingered from a pot, the smell of turps and paint flecked on white overalls, the bait bag emptied of tartan flask and Tupperware tub with the crusts of loafs and empty crumpled Tudor crisp packets, of brushes and putty knifes and a folded copy of the Daily Mirror, to grip a chipped old mug of strong tea and pull you tight to gloss dried hard on wool jumper and scratched by stubble. These hands that throw you high and never fail to catch, lined with white scars and nicked to scab, blue veins and hairs, studied by a child that dreams one day to be a man, to have his hands calloused and hard as tree bark himself, not softened by computers and offices and constant TV but shovelling muck from the slippery boards of a pigeon loft, to hammer in nails, to lift great bags of cement and roughen the tips on brick. These hands are Best Scotch and yellowed by Regal King size, these hands are the noise at the popular end on match day, these hands that cut meat and rub raw on a wood saw. These hands that caressed a swollen belly and held a tiny head, these hands that raise up into a clenched fist salute.