The next few Musings From The Ship are going to cut pretty deep and really good this month.
Actress, poet, playwright, activist AND documentarian Ashley Wilkerson joins us this week with a baby fresh poetic offering from the womb of her mind.
Brown Hands enters as an monumental ode to her brother who was murdered by gun violence in 2007, travels the rawness of grief and regally arrives at a resolve that bursts open with compassion.
File this poem in the Alchemical section, please.
‘Cause Ms. Wilkerson has surely done the inner work to feel completely at home there.
Take a journey with her to a scenario that is happening at this very moment in….
A Poem by Ashley Wilkerson
With these brown hands, I touched the earth and scrubbed my brother’s blood.
It was like red lipstick on cement.
A bloody kiss after schizophrenic bullets bit a piece of his heart.
No one bothered to clean up the mess even after they cleared out his pockets.
Black Boy Dead at the hands of another black boy doesn’t warrant a protest.
So my tears saturated the stains, elbows transformed into wash rags, and I scrubbed.
My skin peeled, leaving polka dots on the pavement where my only brother once stood.
They killed him.
I wonder if he had time to forgive God for taking our mother from us?
We were young when we buried her too.
Leukemia knocked on her door at 33 and slammed the door in our faces when she was 34.
There’s more…we had to share the awful news with our father behind plexiglass.
I don’t remember much about the ride, but my big sister, brother and I, stood inside the jail house and watched a grown man weep.
It’s a shame we couldn’t touch because we desperately needed a family hug.
Back to the blood.
At 13, my brother was shot.
At 17, he was shot again.
At 28, a swarm of angels surrounded him saying,
“John-John, it’s time to stop playing.
You are bigger than these mere mortals.
Inside you is a portal that connects you to the entire Universe.
You can now stretch your wounded limbs to the sky Black boy ﬂy!”
With these brown hands, I reach for you when I am afraid.
Hoping to catch some of the residue you left behind that somber, September day.
Sometimes it lands in the center of my right hand and blooms like an orchid.
Your power will never be overshadowed by gun powder.
This is why I’ve chosen Forgiveness and to use these same brown hands to bear witness, that I will create a world where geniuses aren’t destroyed by low self-esteem.
My dreams are tangible because of your sacriﬁce.
Tell Mama I thank her too.
Sometimes I see you moving peacefully like a cloud crossing water and I wish I could take a picture and give it to your daughter.
I hope that she will one day see your blood in a rose bud and know that she’s never, ever alone.
Brother, my brown hands have grown stronger.
With clenched ﬁsts, I press on.
I scrubbed your blood and you gave me this poem.
©2015 Ashley Wilkerson
illustrated by Georgia Anne Muldrow