The hands have options in virasana, hero’s pose. They may be placed palms down on the thighs, resting on femur bones powerful beneath skin and muscle. They could nestle together, palms up, in the safety of your lap. Fingers can take a mudra or interlace and reach for the sky. The arms may twine to unite the hands palm-to-palm. The hands, like those in this poem, have much to say.
What My Hand Say
For great-grandpa, Will Rogers
Born in the 1800’s
My hand say, Pick, plow, push and pull,
‘cause it learned to curl itself around every tool
of work. The muscles say, bend yourself like the sky,
coil yourself blue around both sun and moon.
Listen, my back be lit by both. My hand
got its own eyes and can pick a field of cotton
in its sleep. Don’t mind the rough bumps —
the callused touch. I work this ground
like it was my religion and my hands
never stop praying. Some folk got a green thumb,
look at my crop and you’ll testify my whole hand
be covered. I can make dead wood grow.
I listen to my hand, it say, Work.
My hand got its own speech. It don’t stutter
it say, Work, Will. Though it comes to mostly nothin,
this nothin is what I be working for.
Come harvest time I drive the horse
and buggy to town. Settle up.
This is where my hand loses its mind,
refuses to speak.
Dumb-struck like the white writing page.
The same hand fluent on the land,
don’t have a thang to say around a pen.
The same fingers that can outwork any man
wilts. What if I could turn my letters
like I turn the soil? What if I could
make more than my mark, a wavery X
that’s supposed to speak for me?
– Glenis Redmond
Note: Poem won the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Contest, 2011; used by permission of the poet
Pair with: virasana
Listen: The poem’s speaker takes the reader through an intimate story. Allow a range of emotions to texture your voice as you read.
Consider: Your hands. Notice others’ hands.