Shared Deeds

My hand’s outstretched to you: please take it
for honour and respect; you sense I am
a man who’s more than where I am: shake it.

Be strong; don’t fret that others might mistake it
for weakness, lion lying with the lamb.
My hand’s outstretched to you: please take it

as a sign of trust. I know you will not break it
or spit, or curse my father’s name, or damn
a man who’s more than who I am: shake it.

The gesture is well-meant: do not forsake it.
Your eyes say that you care: the scowl’s a sham.
My hand’s outstretched to you: please take it.

The politics of gods and tribes can make it
hard to know the treif from the haram;
man who’s more than who I am: shake it;

forget the wire—take my hand, don’t fake it.
Pain manifests in tears: shalom, salaam.
My hand outstretched to you, you take it;
a man who’s more than where I am, shakes it.

Nigel Holt

If you have any comments on this poem, Nigel Holt would be pleased to hear from you.

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