I Have Seen Black Hands
I am black and I have seen black hands, millions and millions of them,
Out of millions of bundles of wool and flannel tiny black fingers have
reached restlessly and hungrily for life.
Reached out for the black nipples at the black breasts of black mothers,
And they’ve held red, green, blue, yellow, orange, white, and purple
toys in the childish grips of possession.
And chocolate drops, peppermint sticks, lollypops, wineballs, ice cream
cones, and sugared cookies in fingers sticky and gummy,
And they’ve held balls and bats and gloves and marbles and jack-knives
and sling-shots and spinning tops in the thrill of sport and play.
And pennies and nickels and dimes and quarters and sometimes on
New Year’s, Easter, Lincoln’s Birthday, May Day, a brand new
green dollar bill,
They’ve held pens and rulers and maps and tablets and books in palms
spotted and smeared with ink,
And they’ve held dice and cards and half-pink flasks and cue sticks and
cigars and cigarettes in the pride of new maturity…
II I am black and I have seen black hands, millions and millions of them
They were tired and awkward and calloused and grimy and covered
And they were caught in the fast-moving belts of machines and snagged
and smashed and crushed.
And they jerked up and down at the throbbing machines massing
taller and taller the heaps of gold in the banks of bosses,
And they piled higher and higher the steel, iron, the lumber, wheat,
rye, the oats, corn, the cotton, the wool, the oil, the coal, the meat,
the fruit, the glass, and the stone until there was
too much to be used,
And they grabbed guns and slung them on their shoulders and marched
and groped in trenches and fought and killed and conquered
nations who were customers for the goods black hands had made. …