Chris Abani's Positive Influence
Written by
Judaye Streett
November 2011
Written by
Judaye Streett
November 2011

"Hands Washing Water" 


Even in the falling

a train breaks for the light.

The tunnel the darkness-never


sweeter. The body is not

real. Yet living.

This living body. 


There is a child. The blessed

coolness of water.

And hands 


Chris Abani

Copper Canyon Press


Chris Abani is an educated professional poet who uses the tools of poetry
writing with artful intimacy.  I am not a poet and so am struggling to
understand this poem and the book of the same name.

The poet or narrator of "Hands Washing Water" is saying that the human body
is as good and a blessing to water as water is to the human body which is
made mostly of water.  Human flesh and water are a part of one another. The body
is as valuable of the rest of the creation.

Free Verse is used because it allows the poet a somewhat less constrained,
more malleable mode of poetic expression. 

This book of poetry by Abani is important because most of us have been taught
that our flesh is sinful and we don't give its creator enough credit for
imagining and constructing wonderful hands or the other parts of the human body. 
Neither do most of us appreciate the true beauty and utility of our bodies.  At
least I haven't, but this poem made me start thinking all the different sizes,
shapes. and colors of humans body parts.  All of that has been right in front of
these eyes.  I never saw it.

Reposted from Let Me Tell The Story!



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  • Judaye Streett

    Yes, that whole book is beautiful.  Abani is an excellent poet.

  • Chloe Diaz de Bedoya

    I love the Hands Washing Water, beautiful.