Take your fingers.
Spread them out
in the familiar shape
against a white tablecloth,
or the night sky.
Close your eyes. No one’s watching.
It feels good, right?
The slight stretch of muscles you don’t often use,
the secret meaning of your spread fingers.
This gesture came from the letter shim,
signed by the rabbis in a blessing so powerful
that you weren’t supposed to look.
Keep your eyes closed.
The world is full of secret signals and greetings,
one hidden person to another.
The ancient Christians drew a single curve in the dust
that another could finish into a fish.
A Sureña drapes a blue handkerchief
around the back of her neck before stepping out of the classroom.
This gesture is different.
It means you no harm. It cannot get you killed,
not in any culture.
It is the delicate recognition of a shared hope
that there is another intelligence,
either up in the night sky
or here in your kitchen
who might see you
and may yet respond.