These Hands

by Silk

I run my fingers through the hairs of time
fingers of my past
fingers that aren’t just mine
I have inherited the hands of a people

My cells stem from the soil
of a massive and historic land
it was there I guided my people
as if I were air moving sand
I once sat confidently on the highest throne
these hands guided the destinies
of a dynasty
which began centennials before Christ
preached peace to the people
these strong, black Egyptian hands
pushed, pulled and carried
hardened clay cubes
constructed massive monuments
that remains firm
in the harsh sands of time
they show the strength of a people
not just mine
I have inherited the hands of a King!

I have picked cotton
on deep south plantations
and been whipped soul-less
when my body was too weary
to go on
These hands are worn
from centuries of toil
iron shackles bore down on my neck
they have wore sores through my dark
beautiful flesh
Many nights have I sat under the light
of God’s north star
picking and clawing at my chains
praying for release
so I could run as far as my maimed legs
could carry me
“follow the big dipper”
is what Sister Tubman told me
I have hid behind trees,
swam across muddy ponds
(in search of a place named freedom)
I have buried the bodies of babies
to young to be caught
because I knew the good Lord
would take care of them a lot better
than massa ever could.
I was captured, tortured
kicked, castrated, burned, shot,
separated from my family
branded with the name of another
and eventually lynched
for what?
for choosing freedom over bondage
I have inherited the hands of a slave.

I had a dream
that I once picketed the segregated streets
of Selma, Alabama
and was beaten severely and spat on
they attempted to extinguish my fire
with the harshness of the hose
to my avail
I had a dream that these hands 
these black, despised hands
were finger printed and charged
with being non-violent
in Jackson, Mississippi
these hands were tied tightly
behind my back
a noose thrown over my head
I was hung
from the sturdy branch of a dogwood
I swung
my hated body blowing limply
in the wind
my soul finally free!
I once rebelled
punched a hole in the blue sky
with a tight black fist
I was investigated by Hoover
number one on his “most dangerous” list
the afros and dashikis
spoke of my unwillingness
to be black and be proud
I was encouraged to say it loud
I have gestured for change
preached revolution
I offered total separation as a solution
on the Negro streets of Harlem 
from atop my soapbox
these hands
these powerful, melanin soaked hands
have prayed to Allah for
strength to destroy my enemies
by any mean necessary
I was infiltrated, assassinated
murdered, killed, watched
and exiled
for what?
for being created in the image of God
I have inherited the hands of a nigger.

Tired of getting nowhere
getting nothing
I threw my hands up in disgust
reach for a glock
and some soul-less niggas
I could trust
flashed gang signs,
lit blunts
said “fuck the world”
grabbed my nuts
I inhaled rap lyrics 
like weed smoke
exhaled disrespect, curse words
and flat out self hate
these hands contributed to
the perilous malady that society
injected into the veins of
the ghetto
these hands reached for death
cause life in the hood was hard 
to let go
I robbed, shot, smoked, snorted
gave up and ran
ashamed of who I became
I buried my face inside these hands
Ignorant I chose blue over black
despised red over white
these hands busied the faces 
of women, and black men alike
murdered brain cells
lost in a cloud of chronic smoke
drowned in a sea of Remy Martin
these hands grabbed bars 
at the age of 19
My life was over before it started
I have inherited the hands of a thug.

Dark paths on these hands
have been a guide
to where I stand
These hands
these calloused, scarred
ashy African hands
chiseled with the life-lines of history
carry a burden and pain
deep enough to squeeze tears
from their veins.
These hands have held the text of 
X, King, Baldwin, Angelou, Davis
Hughes, West, Giovanni
and countless others.
My sisters and brothers
my nails dug deeply
into their covers
stretching the binds in search for more
for myself
and there I was…
standing among them
enlightened and amazed at our likeness.
No longer do I run
No longer do I hide
No longer do I smash or break mirrors
with these hands.
Rather I polish their faces
in order to see clearer the one
on the other side.
No longer am I ashamed
for I have inherited the hands of a man.

These Hands by Silk

© Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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