Cracking walnuts

I sat low at a linen table
watching your long soft palm
squeezing two walnuts.
Rolling them together.
A hard hollow scrape.
Pressing fleshy mounts
into the gnarl.

I could not look at you.
Frightened of seeing pain.
Only saw knuckles tighten
with this gasp of strength
that came from another life.

I held my own breath
as your press groaned,
cracking a cranium
against its own wall.

A quiet implosion and release.

You opened a rhubarb hand,
walnutsfull of dust and nut oil,
peppered with shard.
Held it still, for me
to pick small, sweet pieces
with fingertips relieved
to touch the hand
that was mine again.

First published in Moor Poets Volume 3