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hand

Around nine years ago, I read a very powerful poem called “The Hand.” It haunts me to this day as it perfectly summed up the utter travesty, ugliness and brutality of warmongering activities whether nation to nation or in smaller scale regional conflicts.

The aftermath of carnage explained in the poetry was straight to the point. It starkly showed the complete loss that is experienced in a graphic and extreme way. It totally drove the point that violence directed towards other people, regardless of the cause for it, must totally stop.

I looked for this poem in subsequent years, but could never find it. So I’m going to try to duplicate it here as best as I can since its content needs to be known.

Obviously, it will not be the exact poem. It can’t be since my version is based on the imagery, thoughts and feelings that the original evoked.

The representation is strong in me. It has lasted almost a decade as one of the most evocative writings that I ever read.

I’m sorry that I can only come up with a loose copy and one that’s embellished, I’m sure, especially since I included a before and after the market scenes additions.

I think that doing so enhances the content for my rendition. It’s the best that I can do under the circumstances. …

THE HAND

 

My six year old grandson woke up excited

while broadly smiling on market day.

He could barely contain his happiness

since he and I planned to walk to the market that morning.

He was looking forward to being in my company,

holding my big hand in his little one

and inspecting all of the market stalls.

Afterwards we would together select vegetables

for the night’s dinner at my daughter’s home – the home of his mother.

 

We walked the dusty dirt road to the market hand in hand.

Overhead the sky was intensely blue

with wispy white clouds hugging the distant horizon.

They curled and reformed into new shapes

as the wind located up so high near them

shoved them westward over the distant mountain range

so as to move them out of sight.

 

Together my grandson and I watched

cloud bank after cloud bank slide out of view.

We both found it amazing to see take place.

Such grandiose huge beauty!

 

We were both speechless

and filled with awe

as we observed the huge white masses sliding out of our sight

past the far-away rugged mountains

that obstructed our view of their journey

to wherever they were going.

 

The trees overhead lining the road were filled with sing-song birds

filling the air with their combined melodies.

Splashes of sunlight intersected the branch shadows on the pathway before us.

The soft warm breeze that day slightly ruffled my grandson’s hair.

His curls shone in the light overhead

and the sheen was lovely to behold.

 

What a rare perfect moment!

Both my grandson and I were in love

with the world at that point.

We had such overwhelming glee over it

that we started to skip down the path.

No one was near us to see

an old man and a young boy skipping together

while holding hands.

Nobody saw us besides ourselves in our intimate shared joy

and inspiration over the goodness

that the day so far had brought forth to us in unison.

 

Then we saw the market place in the distance.

It looked exciting with the bustle of people

and many varied goods spread out in stalls within its confines.

So we picked up speed in our eagerness to get there.

 

Still skipping and close to the market,

I suddenly saw a sharp flash of light

and heard a loud boom.

It knocked me off of my feet

and I went unconscious from the physical shock of the blast.

 

When I became alert again,

I was dazed, confused and panicked.

Where was I?

What had happened?

I looked around the rubble surrounding me in confusion.

 

Then I felt reassured

because I felt and saw my grandson’s warm hand in mine.

All was well.

 

Then I looked down again.

Nothing else was left.

The hand had detached from his small alive body.

I was simply holding a little hand in mine.

 

Yes, all that I had left of my grandson was his tiny frail hand

Attached to mine.

It was buried in a funeral service.

 

I miss him so much.

I will always feel guilty for bringing him to the market that day

and my only being left with his small hand in mine.

 

Obviously traumatized almost beyond endurance,

I sometimes comfort myself

by dreaming at night

that my grandson’s hand is in mine and all of him is present.

 

Then I wake up empty handed.

Then alarmed, I inspect my open empty hand on the bed

and try to come to terms with the market day

all over again … and again and again night after night.

 

It is a never ending process of dreams

and waking up with my hand holding nothing.

It is a never ending process of reliving

and trying to come to terms with the market day’s bombing.

 

How would you feel if your only grandchild were killed

as was mine by one or another faction in a war?

Where do you stand in terms of the contention?

 

Add your voice to mine to stop this madness.

It’s imperative – how well I deeply and thoroughly know day after day

and night after night for the rest of my life!

 

Please! I do not want more people empty handed.

It’s too late for me.

I will cycle between dreams of my grandson intact

and my empty hand once I awake.

 

No one else needs know this hell

that strikes to the heart again and again

until the day that one dies.

 

Tit for tat: All groups in contention are carrying out the above abomination described in the poem, and doing so again and again:

US airstrike on ISIS on car bomb factory in Mosul Iraq – Business Insider

www.businessinsider.com/us-airstrike-on-isis-on-car-bomb-factory-in-mosul-iraq-201…

Mar 7, 2017 – There were 10 airstrikes, with a total of 80 engagements, in Iraq on February 26. Five of those strikes were in or around Mosul, targeting ISIS …

2016 Orlando nightclub shooting – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Orlando_nightclub_shooting

Jump to Future of Pulse – On September 14, the City of Orlando announced it would pay $4,518 to erect a new fence around the Pulse nightclub on …

Omar Mateen · ‎SIG MCX · ‎Pulse (nightclub) · ‎Semi-automatic rifle

More Than 1,000 Civilians Reportedly Killed by U.S.-Led Airstrikes as …

https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/27/more_than_1_000_civilians_killed

Mar 27, 2017 – More Than 1,000 Civilians Reportedly Killed by U.S.-Led Airstrikes as … Up to 80 civilians, including women and children, may have died in one … of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that has killed as many as …

Scores Dead After Truck Plows Into Bastille Day Crowd In Nice … – NPR

www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/…/truck-crashes-into-crowd-celebrating-bastille-day

Jul 14, 2016 – Scores more people are injured. Anti-terrorist investigators have taken over the case. Witnesses describe “bodies everywhere” and hundreds of …

Obama’s covert drone war in numbers: ten times more strikes than …

https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/…/obamas-covert-drone-war-in-numbers-ten-t…

Jan 17, 2017 – There were ten times more air strikes in the covert war on terror during … Obama ordered more drone strikes than Bush did during his entire …

Donald Trump’s first US military raid ‘kills 30 civilians, including 10 …

www.independent.co.uk › News › World › Middle East

Jan 30, 2017 – Many strikes were carried out by US military forces on Yemeni … Around 30 people, including 10 women and children, are thought to have been killed by … sympathiser Anwar al-Awlaki who was killed in an airstrike in 2011, …

U.S. acknowledges airstrike in Mosul, where more than 200 Iraqi …

www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iraq-mosul-airstrike-20170325-story.html

Mar 25, 2017 – Witnesses said the airstrike killed hundreds of residents on Baghdad Street in west … March 17, including many women and young children.

Greenspan admits Iraq was about oil, as deaths put at 1.2m | World …

https://www.theguardian.com › World › Iraq

Sep 16, 2007 – Greenspan’s damning comments about the war come as a survey of Iraqis, which was released last week, claims that up to 1.2 million people …

… and the list of horrors goes on and onward into the future. It leads only to more empty hands.

Enough! Let’s stand up as so many did during the Vietnam War and resist with the full force of our beings, convictions and values! Yes, absolutely enough for all of us whether personally left empty handed or not!

Sally Dugman is a writer in MA, USA.

4 Comments

  1. Dear Ms. Dugman, I am grateful for your many letters; your work always touches me deeply. I would love to send you a non-gratis copy of my recently released book, Media Monsters: Militarism, Violence, and Cruelty in Children’s Culture, so you can see the ways war has become integral to kids’ world. Please let me know where to send. Feel free to listen to my interview on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. https://ralphnaderradiohour.com/category/militarism/
    Many thanks for the important work you are doing!
    My very best,
    Heidi Tilney Kramer

  2. The poetic voice can often awaken us to a deeper consciousness of what is ever-present but unnoticed or ignored. This piece vividly evokes the simple yet transcendent joys that every parent and grand-parent knows intimately. And then it is pierced by an agonised terror that those of us in so-called “peaceful” zones can barely comprehend. Thank you also for the remembrance of those many theaters throughout the world where such horrors are daily lived.

  3. Pratap Antony says:

    Stark. The horror. The horrors of war.

  4. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Let us join our ‘ hands’ in such a way that any other ‘ hand’ may not dare to touch our will and determination!