On the Beloved’s Wrist
You don’t give it a second thought most of the time, of course. But in favoured circumstances – when it is framed by a leather watch strap, a crisp shirt cuff, a circle of amber stones or placed on a table, palm up – you notice again the especially delicate skin on the inside of the forearm, the interplay of gentle curves, swelling, flaring, narrowing, turning back in. The demands and complications of a relationship inevitably mean that you often don’t feel particularly sweet and generous around this person – with whom you in fact spend so much of your existence. Just looking at this person’s wrist can renew certain tender feelings that, you realise, you’ve been losing sight of.
Certain reasons why you love them can be rediscovered via contemplation of this strange hinge between the radial and carpal bones. The pleasure of looking at it is connected to remembering its history: how tiny it must have been when they were a baby, how it was once encased in woollen mittens, they used to pull the cuff of a blue jumper down with their thumb (eventually wearing a little hole).
You are reconnecting with the grace of gestures they occasionally make and which deeply moved you when you were first infatuated with them, and which still have the power to touch you. There’s a way they have of holding their hand up when pausing while typing at the keyboard while peering at the screen and biting their lower lip. It’s a gesture of the wrist that indicates hesitancy, an anxious desire to get things right. Maybe it started when they had piano lessons aged eight and a half and tried so hard to please their teacher and play all the notes correctly. The desire to please is a side of them that you don’t always see in daily life (especially when they are upbraiding you for not having quite accomplished you share of domestic responsibility).
You are drawn to the way they hold a knife when slicing a tomato – with the forefinger extended far out along the top of the blade, and the wrist itself pushed down towards the chopping board: it’s a strange action that only they seem to make. Watching them, you can trace a life-line back to a more clumsy era of childhood, when it took great effort to control the blade; you are united across time with their earlier self, eager to learn, unclouded by the later complexities of existence. They can be pretty tough to be around sometimes, but the wrist is an emblem of the more fragile side of who they are.
They might be the only person in the world, you could recognise by their wrist alone.