My mother’s hands were delicate,
small, too fragile, it seemed, 
for the work she chose–

Nursing, then raising six children.
All the cooking, cleaning, presenting 
perfection 1960’s housewifery required. 

The strength in those small hands
could demand obedience from a wild
young dog, enfold a crying child in comfort,

learn to drive at thirty, help build 
a lakeside cabin to be refuge and oasis
to children and grandchildren. 

And when arthritis swelled her knuckles
and her wedding band no longer fit,
my father commissioned a new ring. 

Six small diamonds, one for each child,
set between two bands of gold.

My mother wore it til she died.
I have worn it every day since.