He didn't have hands, just fists, sun-blackened knuckles wrapped
around by a thumb, the black leather of a belt or mama's soft,
warm, brown flesh. Pick one.
These fists is all I got left me. Colored men's got no use for
fingers in the city. No cotton and cane to reap or sow, just fabric by
the yard and packets of Sweet 'N Low.
My little wife, she turn them into dresses and pralines, curtains and
beignets. She patch holes in our clothes, stitch poupees with button
eyes and nose. She cook crawfish etouffees and gumbos. She make things.
I ball my fingers up me to let the world go out and come in, to lift
luggages packed too heavy, and take hold of loose change in the same way
it's give me-- dropped from a fist. Quite natural, my fingers get
I go to my little wife, try to touch her face I go to the baby, try to
play patty cake and there's a lump of skin where hands used to be.
But what I need them for me? Now machines plant and pick the food that
feeds my family.