Calluses

I’ve got calluses on my hands.

I thumb them mindlessly
On the street
In meetings
Feeling every ridge
Every crack of skin

Some days bright red
Rubbed raw
Some days dull and hard
A thick coat of impenetrable skin
Exhausted, they rip off.
Healing and loss.

I’ve got calluses on my hands.

Gripping so tightly
Knuckles white
Muscles tensed
The corrugated metal
Of a straight bar or hex bar
Of a dumbbell or kettlebell

A scream and it’s aloft.
Muscles burning,
Heart racing,
Hands stinging.

I’ve got calluses on my hands.

My father had calluses.
His hands gnarled and bruised.
Nails, hammers, saws, and wood.
They all left their mark.
So much depends upon…
Calluses on his hands.
The heavy tax of time.

I pay for my calluses
Though he was paid for his.
I wear them with pride.
Battle scars of
Wars I chose to fight.
Deeper scars remain.

Unseemly, perhaps,
But seemly all the same.
Battered but not broken
Broken but not beaten
Beaten but not defeated
Defeated but not destroyed.

I’ve got calluses on my hands.

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