Rough-hewn, tough. God carved my hands from granite with no marble sheen. Leathery, weathered. My granddaddy said he knew, soon as he first saw me outta the womb, I'd have a farmer's hands. Digging in the dirt the minute I could scramble from mama's arms. Calloused, practiced. I built them up, these palms. I earned 'em. Shaped the earth with these very fingers, filled your supper spoons. Now you say I got to fill your pockets, too. Heavens! It ain’t rained this year, and even you, you, with pale knuckles and office importance, even you can’t do nothing ‘bout that, brother. Step off the suit-tie high-horse and hear me out: I won't let your money demands grind me down even as they try to suck me dry. I won't fidget and fret. I’ll walk with my head held high and strong thumbs hooked through my belt loops. When I get to the end of the road I’ll grit my teeth and open the door to my mailbox, secured long ago with my nails and my hammer. I’ll stare without a flinch at the fanned-out stack of envelopes from you, all fancy print and fangs. Greedy, needy. Feeding on me. Hell, I’ll sell another acre if I have to. But I won't let you claw at my dignity with your clean little fingernails. Can’t do that no more than you can make rain. Oh no, no, no. No matter how broke, can’t break me, no. Snatch my crop, yard, car, and bed, but you ain’t never gonna touch my dignity. Not as long as I've got my hands.
February 10, 2010