Hand

Nuada's Hand Fold of Stones Small

I.
His hand was raised in the king’s stead on the fold of valour, a fold of stones surrounding the king, and on it the blood of Nuada’s hand trickled.’
The Battle of Moytura

Already they’re distancing the hand
from you – I see it against the blood red sky;
five fingertips, cold, pale, already turning blue
reaching for something… is it you… or is it
your sword, Claíomh Solais, which somehow
failed to pierce the heart of your enemy?

As they lay you on a herb-laden bed
I wonder if it haunts you like the shadow
of a menhir, not alive, not dead, still reaching
for something – a sun, a moon, a planet
invisible to mortal eyes that spells a destiny
that was not fulfilled as the blood dries.

II.
So with Credne the brazier helping him, Dian Cecht the physician put on him a silver hand that moved as well as any other hand.’
The Battle of Moytura

I wonder what you dream as they forge
your silver hand – hammer on anvil, rasp of saw,
silent soldering of silver veins and electrolysis
of nerves on a night of thunder beneath an
oak, lightning leaping from fingertip

to fingertip sprite-like before you hear voices:
“Rejoice rejoice!” as it’s borne back reweaving
arteries, capillaries, veins, muscles, tendons, bones,
reviving like a blissful reunion to a dead bride.
I wonder if you dreamed it would be painful.

III.
Nuada, his missing hand having been replaced, became king of Ireland.’
The Battle of Moytura

What power lies in a hand that makes a king?
Is it in the holding of a sword or a glaive of light?
Is it in a clenched fist or a silver finger wiping
a tear from the face of a beggar on the street?
Is it in the silver giving of your generosity?

Do you ever fear you are still dreaming
as you circumabulate your prosperous realm
making speeches of peace by day and by night
just glorying in the circling stars until called
back to the bloody fold of stones where
your kingship was made and unmade?

The nightmare of your severed hand fades
and all prosper in your destiny regained.

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