After I’ve dried the last of the dishes,
I light lavender incense
before carrying the garbage out to
the compacter chute.
I lock the door and collapse onto my sofa.
I look down at my hands.
My cuticles are dry and thickening.
I thought I had pushed them back
as I washed my hair last night.
I go to my bedroom and snatch the cocoa butter off the dresser
and as I moisten my hands,
I study them.
My fingertips are slightly bent, like my father’s.
I remember the flecks of black grease that used to dot our sink
after Daddy washed his hands when he came home
from long days of handling baggage at the airport
or fixing our neighbors’ cars.
My sister and I would tease Daddy
about his ashy hands.
He’d laugh, and
began keeping a tiny tube of Curacel in his car.
I’d watch him shake the lotion down into his palms
rubbing his long strong brown fingers
until they had a light fragrant sheen.
After he died,
I couldn’t bring myself to throw out
that little white bottle with the blue cap.
How I wish we had
just held his hands
and said, “Thank you.”