Bruised and bloodshot
these heavy callused hands
once pulled weeds

from the tangled earth,
yanked vines and rope,
shoveled black dirt.

In the sun they held scythes
glowing, gripped the necks
of whiskey bottles.

At work, they jerked
wrenches, rusty crowbars,
read lugnuts like braille.

In the dark sweat of the barn
they fell hard on the backs 
of horses, pulled calves 

from the clenched hips of cows, 
snapped the necks of chickens.
At night they cupped in prayer.

Balled into fists they clutched 
axes, dug graves, wrestled 
with wheelbarrows, split lips.

Now, soft as the wings of angels,
they sleep, folded forever
across his sunken chest.