Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: HANDS

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

In February: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.
March: divorce, door, dream, emergency room, envelope, eyebrows, first apartment, first job, food, game, garden.

April: I took a break to focus on ARTSPEAK: Happy!

Here are the prompts for May: gloves, great-grandparent, guidebook, gun, gym class, hair, hands, hat, high heels, honeymoon, hood.


So I've written about my own (piano) hands in CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? I inherited my mother's hands – wide, capable hands with prominent veins.

Interestingly, I heard Henry Winkler on a podcast recently say that this is considered good fortune in some cultures. Who knew? I do recall receiving a compliment once specifically about my hands – a stranger asked if I was a “hand” model. (!) That was quite a few years ago, but it still makes me smile.

One memory I haven't documented is about a scar on my left hand. It's a round white scar, about an inch below my pointer finger's knuckle. When asked about this scar I have been known to say, “it's from a cigarette burn.” That's exactly how big it is! And doesn't that sound like an interesting (horrible) story? This is the curse of being a storyteller, I think... we can imagine so many more entertaining stories about ourselves that it's hard sometimes to settle for the truth – which is that in college I had a wart pop up in that spot, and the scar is the result of having it removed.

Another “hands” note: I'm left-handed, and I have always loved that about myself! It's a big part of my identity – proof that I really am an artsy, creative whose default is right-brained thinking/problem-solving.

Yes, there are frustrations: smearing ink as I grip the pen with pointer finger and thumb, leaving the rest of my fingers drag behind like a snail's shell... and how the ink will stain my skin, making me look like I forgot to wash. Most desks, scissors, instruments, etc. are not made for lefties. When dining with friends or family, I must always choose a seat on the outside of a table, so that I'm not bumping elbows with my tablemate. But these are all just part of the lefty experience. I wouldn't trade them for anything.

And here is a memoir- poem about being right brained and left handed:

The Left-Handed Way of Learning the States

When Mrs. Fattig says
we must memorize
the names of all the states,
I start with orange Florida,
and journey up the east coast
before heading west
to pink California.
I add blue Hawaii
and white Alaska last.

When I'm done
with my recitation,
I've only named 48 states.
Should've done it
my best friend Barbie says.

But why would I want
to spend so much time
memorizing a boring list
when my heart clackety-clacks
to trace green mountains
and aquamarine lakes
as I cruise across
the map's brown state lines? 

- Irene Latham

1 comment:

  1. I love the clackety-clacking heart and I can picture the colored pencils hard at work!


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