"Waiting Hand and Foot"
It's funny how they fit together,
Quinn and Ash, almost like
the north and south points of a compass.
Quinn is Canadian and genderqueer;
he is interested in everyone and everything.
Ash is Wichita-Navajo and asexual;
she is not interested in anyone that way.
Quinn dislikes labels and pigeonholes,
eschewing either/or in favor of both/and.
Ash, too, likes to keep her options open
because she know that love and touch
are not always about erotica.
They share a sense of humor,
telling trickster stories and
punning across two or three languages,
their heads bent together as they laugh,
Ash's straight black hair against
the brilliance of Quinn's color-of-the-day.
Quinn is there to help
when Ash ties her hands in knots
from too much coding on the computer.
He laces their long fingers together,
like layers of white and red clay in a riverbank,
and coaxes her onto the couch in the common room.
Wrapped in a purple-and-gray afghan,
Ash purrs happily while Quinn
rubs away the stiffness and cramps.
He works his way down her pinky finger
along the outside of her palm
where the tension tends to pool,
then across the base and up the thumb,
kneading the thick pad of muscle
between thumb and forefinger.
Ash falls asleep before he
reaches her other hand.
On Valentine's Day,
Ash and Quinn are alone:
Pat is home with his spice,
Alex has gone to a symposium,
Tim is doing some alien thing in his room,
and everyone else seems to have a date.
Quinn is moping because
his plans have fallen through.
Ash nudges him gently
and asks, "Be my valentine?"
Quinn giggles and nods.
Ash sits down cross-legged on the floor
and draws his feet into her lap,
slender and high-arched and sensitive.
She smooths her hands over the tops,
fingers seeking out the wide bands
at the base of his toes and his ankles
that get stiff and sore sometimes,
then covers the undersides too,
the ball of the foot below the big toe.
Quinn laughs when it tickles a little.
Then he groans with pleasure as Ash
slowly rotates his ankles and then
tugs on the toes to loosen the joints.
She rolls her thumbs down his arches,
cups the heels in her palms and squeezes.
Afterwards Quinn is relaxed and happy
and in the mood to cook something.
So they go into the kitchen
and make garbure, a thick soup
of meat and beans and vegetables.
Then they bake clafouti with wild cherries,
because cherries symbolize life and love.
What passes between Ash and Quinn
is not romance but affection,
the love that abides between good friends,
no less vivid for its difference.
* * *
This poem celebrates a variety of nonsexual intimacies. Valentine's Day is about more than just nookie.
Acupressure releases physical and emotional tension by squeezing specific pressure points. Notice that the heart meridian runs near the outside edge of the hand; from there outward is what tends to knot up for Ash. Here's a chart of the hand reflexology points. Learn how to find pressure points on the hand. You don't actually have to know this stuff if you're giving a massage, because you're likely to go over them anyhow, it just adds precision if you know where they are.
Hand cramps often come from overwork. Know how to relieve cramping fingers and give a great hand massage.
Foot reflexology similarly uses a map of nerves to echo the body on the feet. There are simple and more complex instructions for giving a foot massage.
Famous French foods include garbure and clafouti.
Cherries represent life and love. Their heart shape also makes them popular around Valentine's Day.