Hands

When our fathers marched away
They told us to hang our heads
When we stood against the walls
They told us to turn our backs
When we stopped to drink from the banks
They told us to look away
And when our sisters never smiled again
We knew they’d never be okay

When desert sands burned blood red
They told us our grandparents had gone away
When babies cried and the women’sighed
They covered our ears and closed our eyes
When our brothers fell panting to their knees
They told us to ignore their thirsty pleas
And when they left our mothers to sleep
They didn’t tell us that they were dead.

And now we keep marching through barren lands
Our ears flooded by forgotten screams
Our voices drowned out by lying regimes
Our eyes blindfolded by denial schemes
And lugubrious crescent moons
Illuminating hatred charging forth
Out of the light at the end of a gendarme’s rifle.

And they still tell us to turn our heads.
Yet although the world may turn away
Hang its head and do as they say
The cracks and valleys of our hands say it all.

These hands
Old hands

Hands like those of our fathers
That hugged us before they were dragged away
Hands like our dying brothers
That begged us not to stay
Hands like our sisters
That shook and shivered in the dark
With blank eyes and the fire snuffed out of their hearts

Hands like our mothers
That sacrificed themselves
So that OUR hands
Can open their eyes
Turn their heads and force them to see
What evils hatred can breed
What atrocities mankind can commit
When beastly brutality is left unchecked

These hands
Engraved with trails filled with blood
These hands
Imbued with memories of our grandmother’s love
These hands
Hardened in the fields like an ancient grandfather’s
These hands
That drank from the banks where they left our forefathers
These hands
OUR hands
Must hold up the truth

For their heads will say no and turn away
And they will beg us all to do the same
Afraid of the wrath of some overdue god
Afraid even more of their own overdue fall
Yet they can hide their tainted hands to no avail
For the truth burns like an eternal flame
And our hands say it all.

Editor’s Note: Tigran Avoundjian recited his poem at a commemoration for the 2nd anniversary of Hrant Dink held Monday at the Pasadena Armenian Center by the United Human Rights Council. Tigran can be reached for comment at tavoundjian@ucla.edu.

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