Dig – Angela Jones – 2009

 

In DIG poet Angela Jones, now 24 and on her way to the Peace Corps in Peru, shares with us the identity she has forged for herself from being in and with Detroit Summer since she was 14. It is from imaginations like hers that will come answers to the many fundamental interconnected and demanding questions with which this essay began.

 

There are forgotten truths in this soil

And I’m going to dig for them

But don’t give me those tools that my brothers used

To extract diamonds from a land

That they once called home

Oh ,no, I’m going to use my hands.

 

I’ll scar the ground and scrape the stones

In desperation

Digging for a truth that is buried down deep

Buried with a purpose

I’ll scratch with my nails and punch with my fists

Shaking the earth with their urgent blows

Until I hit some solid surface

The surface of a revelation so true

It’s too true to bear witness to.

 

These violent secrets unveiled that are dirty

Like t he dust on my knuckles

Angry and clenched in a fretful pose

This earth is not a lake, where I can dip palms in

And let drops drip from my fingertips

No, these secrets are too painful

And the earth is unwilling

So I will make my hands of metal

Digging through the cracked cement to excavate

Skyscrapers

 

Finding tombs of wombs that bare the fruit

Of privileged elite

In moth-eaten purple pin-stripe

My destiny is to dig for doubtless truths

Shattering dogmas with jackhammers

And hiding jailhouse files in my raised fist

To file away the bars of steel mines

And copper mines

Freeing ancestors of mine, and y ours

From slavery, indentured servitude,

And minimum wage.

 

This earth that hides the headlines and hellraisers

Of old revolutions

Is that same earth that bore me into a kingdom

Of corrupt kings and cruel intentions

This institution is not amorous

It knows its sins – now I shall know them, too.

 

This dirt is soaked with nuclear test sites

Ghetto mounds of grass-covered garbage

Where children run through mutated weeds

This dirt is carried on the wind

Gets in your eyes and blinds you

From the internment camps that were once there

In this soil rests the sullen graves of adobe huts

And in their place grow reservation HUD houses

And welfare cheese

Barrio booze and CIA-sold street crystals

All picked from the same genetically modified tree

Grown in the closet we hide our skeletons in.

 

The deep, dark depths of the earth

Hide the secrets to shame and bad decisions

What’s fair is often forgotten

And you can’t find freedom from a flag

You have to dig for it.

 

So dig for your freedom

Fragile figures of history’s failures

Or I’ll dig for you

For those fools of fortune I’ll plow through

The lies and muck of middle-earth

Turning stock shares into ploughshares

Giving campesinos back their poly-cultural crops

I’ll worm my way though the holes in this planet

To other kingdoms and freedoms forgotten

Because t his earth is not rotten

It cleanses itself every other empire

By hands that dig for the truth

 

Through old tragedies and fallen legacies

We must keep the past in mind and at hand.

To seize that chance to begin anew.

 

 

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