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Hold

By Gowri Koneswaran

we're taught to hold hands
when we cross the street
or walk with our mothers in parking lots or
navigate crowds with a friend and
don't want to end up alone

hold hands with whomever is closest
when the power goes out
when the sirens scream near
when the moving of men marches
silences into the corner

hold hands when
they come calling,
when they threaten,
"this is necessary to
teach you a lesson" or
"this is necessary
to protect you"

hold hands when we stand still,
when we walk, when
we run
when they tell us to
surrender
when they tell us
to do anything

hold hands when we
fall from the sky,
with or without parachute
when we leap from tall buildings,
with or without
the ability to fly

hold hands with the ones who
don't
look like us,
talk like us,
believe like us

hands like fragile boxes or bombs,
things that could break or explode

each finger a troop in the human army
each gesture a shield

Added: Monday, July 7, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Gowri Koneswaran
Photo by Fid Thompson.

Gowri Koneswaran is a Tamil American writer, performing artist, and lawyer. Her advocacy has addressed animal welfare, environmental protection, the rights of prisoners and the criminally accused in the U.S., and justice and accountability in Sri Lanka. Her publication credits include several poems and two peer-reviewed journal articles on the environmental impacts of farming animals for food. Gowri has performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Atlas Performing Arts Center, SpokenWord Paris, and universities in the U.S. and Canada. She is a Kundiman fellow, poetry coordinator at the non-profit arts organization BloomBars, a poetry events host at Busboys and Poets, senior poetry editor at Jaggery, and co-editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly. Gowri shares haiku and senryu on Twitter and Instagram @gowrimozhi.

Other poems by this author