In Nazareth my father taught me how
to measure wood and sand it till it shone.
From him I learned to work with all my might;
to play with all my heart’s delight; to teach –
he was so good at that; to laugh with joy;
and best of all, to love and help my ima.
The gifts she gave were priceless pearls: a jar
of water in the shop; some honey cakes
(the special kind); a story by the hearth
at night; a vision of the evening sky.
The laying-on of hands began with her;
she taught me how to heal. When I was small
she washed my wounds and scrapes and held me till
my tears were gone. And when I was a man,
my calluses as hard as nails -
when Nazareth became Jerusalem -
I'd have to learn again the things I thought
I'd come to know. And in the end it was
not I who touched the ailing and the dying;
they touched me, and all the wounded world
reached toward me and filled my outstretched arms
until I was a mother holding all
that life inside – a vessel, but a child
as well, enclosed inside unfathomable
darkness, darker than the deepest earth,
no mother near nor father listening close.
My healing hands were pinned against my will,
or should I say connected at long last
unto my will, my dearest wish: a laying-
on of hands that could deliver all
my children safe and sound. And there I was
to meet them as they came, emerging from
the empty darkness leaving all their shrouds
behind. And lo, they were like little children
dancing in the morning sun and laying
on each other’s cheeks their healthy, hearty, happy hands.