Touching The Untouched

I wrote this poem to my (now) husband after we began dating. I dedicate this poem to all of the spouses and loved ones of people with special needs who saw past the superficial to their partner’s inner being.

The first time you encounter my hand,
I detect hesitancy to label.
My hand is different.

Sensing unfamiliarity, I anticipate your reaction:
Fear, dismay,
confusion, surprise,
incredulity, amazement.

My mind churns a thousand questions:
How does my hand look to you?
How does it feel?
Are you uncomfortable?
Have you touched a hand like mine before?
Hard-won self-acceptance erodes
Amid fresh tears.
Shame seethes anew
Before unacclimated eyes.

I grow guarded,
Recall long-forgotten memories.
A touch too-brusque;
The fear of being hurt.
A touch avoided;
That hurt more.

But this time is different.
You gently whisper,
“May I hold your hand?”
I trust you with my most precious gift,
As you indulge it with caresses
I relax,
Safe and secure,
Supported and held.

Will you hold my hand like that just a little longer?

Laura Faye Clubok

©2023. Laura Faye Clubok, MS, OTR/L, On The Other Hand Therapy

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