01 February 2019

Programmer Hands

My wife's hands have callouses on callouses.
I, on the other hand (both hands, in fact) do not.
When the children are in bed and the lights are out
And we lie in tangled sheets
Our limbs and fingers and hearts intertwined,
Breathing deep, satisfied breaths,
She teases me about the softness of my skin.
"I have programmer hands," I say, and find
Some other pleasant occupation for my hands.
(She does not complain of their softness then.)

Nonetheless, it is true: I have the hands of a programmer.
They don't get much exposure to the elements.
They don't carry heavy things all that often.
They don't change many diapers these days.
They are hesitant in the morning, tapping
Like a woodpecker who knows bugs are in this tree,
Somewhere or another -- they just need to be found.
My fingers tread forward, then back, then retrace their steps again,
Feeling for the trail like blind cross-country runners.
By the end of the day, they're slow but steady,
A tortoise who has finally hit his stride,
Coating the napping hare in sedately trodden dust.

All day long, my hands reflect my mind.
They are sluggish when it is slow,
Inspired when it is brilliant, and they make
Predictable dumb mistakes every so often,
Like the comforting ticking of a clock.
(I'd hate to stop making these mistakes,
Since then I'd feel utterly out of place.)

My hands work to embody my thoughts
In symbols on the screen. Through occult magic,
These symbols will compile into electromagnetic artifacts
That will help a balding pharmacist to fill prescriptions
In a warehouse a thousand miles away.
Like the miller's daughter, I weave the straw of thought-stuff
Into the pure gold of my boss's bottom line.
My fingers are the spinning wheel,
And my Rumpelstiltskin's true name is C++.