I placed my hands on the sterile table, centering them within the square of light. Then, positioning them palms down and slightly angled and lifted from the table, I held that position while he lowered the lens. He inquired about the ink on my wrist, wanting to know what it was. I told him it was a butterfly, inspired by Picasso’s line drawings. "Are you an artist?" "I am." He asked what kind of art I created and shared that he loved art and felt his job was a perfect blend of science and art. I hadn’t thought of that before but I liked his take on the role of an x-ray technician. He clearly loved his job.
He directed me to hold still, while he went around the corner and hit a switch. But my hands wouldn’t hold still. They moved with a slight quiver and I contemplated the impact that a constant tremor would have on my creative life. Though it seemed obvious to me, the quivering didn’t seem to affect the image capture. We repeated this process three more times: palms up, right hand only, left hand only. Each time, I grew more reflective about the vital role my hands play in my life.
These hands are my tools, my touch, my voice. They gesture when words aren’t enough. They write the things that are hard to speak. They express my soul along piano keys and accompany my lyrics on acoustic strings. They craft paper and paint and fabric into tangible expressions from my heart. They clench when I feel tense and soften when I am at ease.
These hands are battered and scarred. Every line and crease tell a story. The time a knife cut through a red pepper into the tip of my thumb. The times I've pulled at dry bits of skin, peeling back a layer and exposing my anxiety as tender raw dermis. The callouses formed from gripping my pen too tightly in a fury of inspiration. The disfigured nails growing from aging leaky joints, gelatinous lumps pressing on my nailbed. The patches of skin, smooth and numb— mishaps with X-acto blades and scissors. These hands are an extension of my experience, my connection to the textures and pulse of life.
He asked me if I wanted to see the images. I stood at the computer looking at my stunning bones. Perfectly constructed to meet at the joints with just enough space in between to keep bone off bone. Thin, elegant, long fingers. So much functional beauty hidden under wrinkled and knotted knuckles, scars and bulging veins. I asked for a copy of the images. “For your art?” he asked. Indeed.