A Mosaic for Fingers

I. I once knew this guy who had alien thin hands. It felt like I was shaking hands with a wet spider. I didn’t want to admit that it disturbed me, so I don’t shake anybody’s hands anymore. Now I just wave, and say I’m sick. Sometimes I am.

II. Before she died, my great-grandmother had calcium deposits that turned her knuckles into bon-bons. It looked like someone had stuffed a marble against her finger bone. I would kiss her on top of the head, dipping my nose into what was left of her hair. There were bumps on the surface, there, too.

III. Liberty is having hands. Freedom is if the fingers were all independent agents. Not even then.

IV. My hand’s too fat to prove what’s behind my face. My voice, I must wait to unpolish, to polish the song. “Like a bird on a wire…”

V. I am a Christian. But if I nibbled the Pope’s fingers as a joke, I couldn’t get a reservation for the rest of my life. Do that to the Dalai Lama and he would just laugh and pat my head.

VI. I became the strongest troubadour, with calluses at tip and stern. A mighty dirge. How many bones do other people’s fathers have?

VII. In my dream, a puppetless puppet hand tendrilled above me. I looked at it with the repetitive subdued wonderment of a boy who loves trains having seen an airplane overhead for the thousandth time. The hand dipped down its middle finger, and blessed me, on the nose, with a drop of something like, but not, water.

Matt Prater is a student at Radford University in Radford, Virginia. He studies in English and Appalachian Studies, and is a poet.