© 2019 by Renee Mitchell Speaks. All Rights Reserved.

   "Words have power.

Choose them wisely."

Healing Hands

(c) 2015 S. Renee Mitchell


I wonder

if u have ever taken the time

to celebrate yr hands

u who are our black midwives


wisdom warriors

carriers of history in yr palms


even the tiniest crevices

of yr fingertips have stories


as the customary keeper of “women’s business”

u carried this divine knowledge

across the middle passage

burrowed beneath yr braids & bosoms

& when we reached America’s shores

u reminded us of how roots make the best medicine


even when we decided

to love our newborn babies to death

rather than deliver them into certain bondage

u taught black women

how to whisper midnight prayers

call out to ancient lineages of ancestors

& christen our intention

w/ drumming & cultural rituals


when we needed to be held through our grief

yr sacred hands were there

without judgment or pretense

wiping our tears

embracing our weeping shoulders

healing our broken hearts


yr hands are the wings of God


black midwives

do u know

how much we need yr hands

depend on yr hands

revere yr hands


u who are most familiar

with the craft of womanhood

with sitting stool & sharp scissors

kindness & innate knowing

u carry the unexplainable expertise

of how an expectant woman

moves & moans just so

when the timing is just right

then u wipe our brows with compassion

as we cry out in loving surrender

black midwives

yr hands are the first to touch

this tiny miracle

while still enclosed in its bloodied channel

& carry it across threshold

from womb to world

yr hands deliver us

emancipate us

liberate us


there is something deeply spiritual

about all the genius that yr hands hold


black midwives

I wonder

if u have ever caressed yr hands

in the tender way

that u would stroke a swollen breast

to release the milk from a plugged duct


have u ever even looked at them

really looked at the lines of them

the peaks & valleys of them

the weatheredness

of skin & scratches & scars

& taken pride

in yr hands selfless service

to our mighty race


black midwives


wisdom warriors

keep teaching & believing

recruiting & pushing for social change

keep fighting for the right policies

& traditional birthing practices

because these doting hands of yrs

that lovingly catch black babies

make for better birth outcomes


because one cannot infuse

or inject affection for dark skin

into a classroom textbook

or a medical degree

it is already there in our melanin

in our hearts

& in our hands


yr hands

black midwives

are instruments

of revolution


This poem was commissioned by Shafia Monroe, founding executive director of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing, specifically for its 2015 conference featuring Grammy Award winning artist Erykah Badu.