Baby Fingertips

by: Neerul Gupta

When she was still small enough to fit all her worries into a crayon box
I would guide unscathed fingers over black outlines of mountains

Knowing that when she’d grow up I’d grip hers in mine
Trudge up to airy peaks only to look below
Hear her say “That wasn’t so bad.”

Pea-sized fingertips struggled to grasp too many colored pencils
Baby giggles matched my laugh as we picked up spilled rainbows
Her dreams didn’t seem so scary then

She learned to grip a pencil, and I thought I’d teach her
How to write about the flipped belly feeling right before jumping into icy waters and
Colors that describe embracing returned loved ones
And while I dreamt of the fortunes I would help her discover

From the tip of lead

She had already written her own stories, own diary entries
Her hands molded experiences I wasn’t allowed to read

Fingers that once interlocked into a holy zipper of
Prayer began growing farther apart
Hands are for protecting, I’d thought
I hoped she’d learned how to grow a fist
To this day, I try to push away pictures of calloused palms and
Cracked knuckles

She doesn’t hold my hand anymore
Instead, I ruminate one-second hugs
Clinging to quick hands that leave my curling back

Hands still too small

Hands that think they’re too big for mine

I never know if I’ll feel those baby fingertips again
But I hold on to the thought of them anyway