Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Marge Piercy: "The Tao of Touch"

What magic does touch create
that we crave it so. That babies
do not thrive without it. That
the nurse who cuts tough nails
and sands calluses on the elderly
tells me sometimes men weep
as she rubs lotion on their feet.

Yet the touch of a stranger
the bumping or predatory thrust
in the subway is like a slap.
We long for the familiar, the open
palm of love, its tender fingers.
It is our hands that tamed cats
into pets, not our food.

The widow looks in the mirror
thinking, no one will ever touch
me again, never. Not hold me.
Not caress the softness of my
breasts, my inner thighs, the swell
of my belly. Do I still live
if no one knows my body?

We touch each other so many
ways, in curiosity, in anger,
to command attention, to soothe,
to quiet, to rouse, to cure.
Touch is our first language
and often, our last as the breath
ebbs and a hand closes our eyes.

"The Tao of Touch" by Marge Piercy, from The Hunger Moon: New & Selected Poems, 1980-2010. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.

Photograph: "Gentle Touch" by Ric Gillego, 2012 (originally black and white).



  1. Oh that is beautiful...reminds me how wonderful it is to be human.

  2. I agree. This is a lovely poem.

  3. You have beautifully enumerated how TOUCH is the first and the last language. Hats Off.

  4. Reading this again a year later I'm reminded of a visit to my mom, who was in an assisted living facility with vascular dementia. I put my arms around her for a long hug and her whole body relaxed. I realized she was probably starved for loving touch: food for the body and spirit.


Thank you for participating respectfully in this blog's community of readers.