Last Friday, I finally took that my well worn exercise, These Hands (thanks to Sue Mayo of Magic Me for sharing it with me) and took it to another level. We did the initial physical and spoken exercise, then I asked the women to write down examples of the “These hands have…” and “These hands will…” on index cards, one for each card. We then took these index cards and laid them on the floor. I told the women that together, we had all written a poem – we just needed to arrange it. The women sat on the floor around the cards and placed them into four verses. This was done almost in silence, with unspoken negotiations happening over where each card belonged. The process of putting it together was almost as lovely as the resulting poem.
When it was finished, the class seemed really proud of their group accomplishment. They said that they enjoyed seeing everyone’s statements, that it was neat to see them all laid together, that it was a great thing that they’d created together.
And here it is. (I can’t get the spacing to work!)
These hands will work hard for their community,
These hands have hidden things -
These hands will help my friend Daniel,
have worked hard,
given a cup,
given food to the others,
have put on my clothes,
These hands have cared for many.
These hands have harmed people -
These hands will not harm people anymore.
These hands have self-inflicted,
These hands have hidden things,
(will stop hiding things)
These hands will steer me away from drugs
will pick up a big book
These hands have healed wounds,
These hands will be strong.
These have prayed
These hands will become soft again,
will caress with love.
These hands have loved on my children
Will write, have written to my children, written to my babies.
These hands will hold my kids and grandkids!
These hands have played cards, prayed for my family, hugged my babies,
These hands will hold my children again.
These hands have painted a picture,
have made jewelry
will make much more beautiful jewelry,
These hands have carried me for miles!
These hands have fed my snake
These hands have saved animals
Will start to create a place to keep rescued animals!
These hands will walk like feet.
These hands will…
Be mine always.
In accordance with Travis County rules, I won’t post the author’s names here. I’m working on a collection of writing from the jail to be put out in June, so I hope I’ll be able to put their names on that.