Posts Tagged ‘monkey fist’

After holding something tight for just minutes,
it takes ten more for the fist to unhold,
to let what it has been grasping
simply balance there in the palm.

I have heard the story of how they trap monkeys
by putting a treat through a hole just big enough
that the monkey’s hand can slip in, but
when clasped around the sweet,
cannot slip out.

I have been one of the rare monkeys
who knows that to be free, it must let go.
It takes time, but eventually the fingers unfurl
the way a leaf unfolds out of its bud—
not all at once, but in spurts, little jerks
of the knuckles, until at last the hand is open
and the fingers remember
what they can do besides clench,
besides clutch, besides clamp.

Today I wonder if the head might learn
what the hand knows, might to slacken and relax
to release a dream.
It never knew holding a dream
could become a problem—
it was a dream, for heaven’s sakes.
Something good. Something wonderful.
Something sweet.

When did the dream become a trap?
A tightening, a snare?
Oh dream, can I let you go
the way a hand might release a piece of paper?
Such a beautiful dream—
that those around me might truly be happy
if only I am good enough, if only I hang on.

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In Knots



I’ve spent years learning to tie the monkey’s fist,

wrapping the long working end of the rope

around the fingers of my hand. While rocking

and nursing and feeding and soothing, I’ve held

the first set of turns in place, then made three more turns

with the rope. While reading and chasing and

swinging and catching, I’ve learned to pass the end

through the inside of the knot, to make turns inside

other turns. And pull it all tight, just so.


I have wanted to perfect this heaving line knot,

something I might use to throw to my son

to save him when he drifts away.

I have practiced the art of the throw, but it seems

I have tied my own hands by accident.

And now that it’s time to untether the line,

my hands want only to practice what they know,

holding on, holding on, holding on,

how clumsy this new art, letting go.

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