this is one of my favorite photos of my grandma. i think she has hidden my actual favorite one because she finds it too secular. i have seen this photo my entire life so it has to be at least 20 years considering my grandma just turned 80 this week. when i see my grandma, i don’t see the hardships she has faced. the generations before me suffered in silence so that i could cry loudly. that is a debt i will never be able to repay in full. but every day i am grateful she never gave up and found a way to heal. my fondest memory with her is watching carmen jones on her little hunchback. i was shocked because that was the raciest thing i had ever watched with her. fun fact: my oldest niece is having a baby, so she will be a great great grandmother this year.

emma

zaria rashay

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a poetic prose

the women in my family have always had nice hands. my childhood is filled with memories of feminine hands weaving stories mouths would never tell. as a young unbaptized jehovah’s witness, their hands would keep me entertained during hours of religious talk that went over my head. like my baby sister’s thumb in her mouth well past an age deemed socially acceptable. or my big sister’s long fingers sitting dormant in her lap. my hands finding an acquaintance on each page of the bible while my mother’s right-hand grips a napkin covered in sinner’s sweat. one of my great-aunt’s hands slept under her head as the other stayed awake ready to pinch our earlobes if we dared nod off beside her. my other great-aunt used both hands to cover her mouth while laughing at her sister’s snoring. my aunt sat rows behind us tucking her hair behind her ears wishing to be a part of the fun again but judgment wouldn’t let her.

but it was my grandmother’s hands that i watched the most. i watched the way each vein would twitch as she turned the pages of a bible she had taught herself to read. her fingertips destroyed from picking cotton. knuckles scarred from fighting off jim crow. palms blistered for every burning child she had to catch. i had grown accustomed to seeing the aftereffects of sharecropping, the great migration, and the crack epidemic in one room. my grandma never talked too much to me about those times. maybe she did have time for a little girl trying to be up in grown folks’ business. maybe she was tired of making war sound fun. maybe the storm inside her had gone quiet. maybe the blood dried up. and it left her with these hands. hands so uniquely beautiful that they are only found once in a lineage. the women in my family have always had nice hands, but my grandma’s will always be my favorite ones.

i want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for taking the time to read my work. it really means the world to me. feel free to clap, comment, and/or highlight; your support is genuinely valued on my end. if you are curious on how to and/or willing to further support me. you can buy me a pen. i also value good ol’ fashion word of mouth, so please feel free to share my piece and consider exploring this blog post. thank you again for reading this far.

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zaria rashay

the nighttime musings of a poetess. in the daylight i sew things and play at production design. ig @zariarashay youtube: zariarashay