My daddy's hands were scarred
and though the smallest details escaped
years ago I remember them a strong
brown like here is the axe that missed
the chopping block and here
is the sharp metal sizzle from the hotel
boiler room in America and here are the
paper cuts from my learned books
and here are the burdens I lifted hardened
into a new layer of skin and here is
the unruly child and here is the moment
I took your mother's hand into mine
and here are the hands that held
for as long as I could these hands that
struck and healed and labored and soothed
these hands will you please remember.
Added: Tuesday, September 8, 2015 / Park's poem won Third Place in the 2014 Split This Rock Poetry Contest, graciously adjudicated by Tim Seibles. Used with permission.
Alison Roh Park is a Kundiman fellow, Pushcart nominated poet, and past winner of of the PSA New York Chapbook Fellowship, Poets & Writers Magazine Amy Award, and Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant. She teaches ethnic studies at Hunter College and is a founding member of The Good Times Collective of emerging poets writing in the tradition of Lucille Clifton. Park appeared on the panel Writing from the Margins: Life, Survival, and Healing for Women of Color and was featured at the 7&7: 7 Poets Celebrate Kundiman’s 7th Year reading at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation and Witness 2010.