Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mama's hands working grace ( Mother's Day poem, 2007)

Mama's hands working grace
By Nordette Adams

Sometimes we sink, sorrowful, search
brooding skies for blessings.

   They have skin like black pearls,
   eyes of wisdom, the light that soothes
   the broken and burdened.

When we wrestle in brown clays of frailty,
claw up from mud, wearing our brokenness like rusted armor,
we seek their beauty that is dark like us--
hair roped or kinked like ours,
lips burning with fullness of hungry dreams for
children and fathers, the bettering of our village.
Their noses are wide enough to breathe all God in
until our chests rise and fall in disrobed joy.

The signs of beauty dark like us are our mama's hands, working.

These hands pull infants up by ankles,
slap diapers down, cool and wrap bottoms.
These hands strip collard greens,
pick a chicken, sift red beans,
chop the garlic, onion, and green peppers,
set ways that season us to face a hard planet.

Mamas rock us in our grumblings until we stop the whine,
learn to sing, to work through stings.

Their hands discipline the backtalking mouth,
the stupid, boy-crazy girl,
the boy, crazy for street trouble who swaggers to his beat,
disbelieving this truth--
Death respects nobody,
Death don't spare.

Their hands comfort big black men
with big mother spirit when sons and husbands
wail like colicky babes choked up on milk,
soured by a world that don't want 'em,
grip us when we grown but shaken, when we weep 'cuz life's too much--
somtimes life's all too much like a hard, humbling death.

These hands type or straighten, wait tables or drive buses
so more hands will find bread or tie shoe laces or go to college.

We grab at love multiplying in these hands,
her warm, curling fingers, her palms
lined first faintly with life's unprobed paths,
later branded by a tangle of choices made putting us first.
She puts us first like the God who calls us children.

Our brown-hand mothers rise with the waking sky,
work past sunset, gift us with the power of
all brown-hand women cherishing fruit.

(c) Copyright 2007 Nordette Adams. All rights reserved.
Previously posted at

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