Concrete Hands

By Sara Ackerman

April 11, 2016

Concrete Hands

The day the crumbling front steps of our house on 2 Baldwin Road were to be torn down and replaced, my mother gave me what seemed like the most incredible and unearned gift. “You can draw on the steps if you want,” she said. “With permanent marker?” I asked, so hopefully and pathetically earnest. My usually unindulgent mother shrugged. “Why not?”

And so I spent the morning kneeling on the jagged concrete, black Sharpie clenched in my chubby four-year-old fist, endlessly tracing my left hand with my right.

Bits of grit from the stairs stuck to my knees and the marker tip. Branches from the cherry tree, the white-pink petals so papery and particular, threw shadows across the stoop. Inside the TV hummed and my baby brother cried while I traced a thousand autographs.

The overlapping hands were both sharp and bulbous, equally like alien starbursts and my very own hand. Who is this girl? I wonder when thinking about her self-possession and her certainty as I duck out of camera frames and my voice wobbles in meetings. Walking the streets of my memory she looks oddly familiar and completely foreign.

The stairs were torn down later that day, and 15 years later the house was too. Whenever I think of 2 Baldwin Road, I picture what hasn't been there for decades: infinity concrete hands and the girl, crouched, drawing them.


Image provided by Jessie Hirsch via Flickr's Creative Commons licence.

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