My Daughter’s Hands

my-daughters-handsThey once drew from four strings Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor. Her arms danced about mahogany stained pine as partners, pulling to and fro. Haunting echoes of Jacqueline du Pre and her troubled brilliance. Now they search for the hint of a vein. Stretches of pale flesh once lined by purple blue channels, rivers and streams erased from a map. Rivulets atop her hands dry. She pokes and prods between fingers with the fine point of a syringe, looking for an opening to inject blessed numbness. Her cello gathers ghost notes of dust. My daughter’s hands, instruments of betrayal.

TJ Wood writes in the moments around her day job in communications and struggles to leave enough creative juice in the tank to work on a memoir. She rarely passes up a taco truck and finds the best days are spent on the road with a camera and notebook, open to adventure. Find her on Twitter at @roadmomma.


Photo credit: Wonder Woman 0731

7 Responses to “My Daughter’s Hands”

  1. Kirby Olson says:

    I loved this story. I read it this morning with twenty creative writing students in the Western Catskills at SUNY-Delhi. We didn’t know much about classical music, but looked up Elgar and then the revelation came when we looked up Jacqueline du Pre. Such a great musician! And then, the MS. We then understood that the daughter in the story was suffering from something similar and that her hands had betrayed her and could no longer operate a cello. This is a truly great story. I still didn’t understand why the hands were searching for a vein, but perhaps MS requires injections to dull the pain. I loved how this story worked. The students loved it, too. We read all the stories on the site, but this one was our favorite.

    • TJ Wood says:

      I can’t tell you how awesome it is to hear that this led you to search out more! It is a bit insider baseball, but I hoped that would encourage people to dig deeper. My daughter is a recovering heroin addict. Her veins along arms and hands are collapsed (erased from a map) and the poking of the needle would be to inject the numbness from life that heroin offers. This is more of a prose poem, but I submitted here anyway 🙂 If you haven’t already found this, it’s worth a few minutes:
      I’d like to know what your students think after you share this additional info with them. I’m trying to find other ways to write about the ravages of addiction and this is an experiment.

      • Winter Halter says:

        TJ, I read this today with my 8th grade ELA students. It’s part of a unit that I call “Itty-Bitty Litty” 🙂

        We understood the heroin reference. This was a very moving example of sudden lit; when I asked my kids if they knew someone who was recovering, using, or had already died from heroin overdose, almost every student raised their hand. We are fighting a war, and I am one who believes we must look directly at the enemy in order to conquer it. Thank you for your literature.

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  3. Jacqueline says:

    Absolutely beautiful. “Instruments of betrayal.” Lovely line! Thank you for this.

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