When my friend lost her little finger
between the rollers of a printing press,
I hadn’t met her yet. It must have taken
months for the stump to heal, skin stretched
and stitched over bone, must have taken
years before she could consider it calmly,
as she does now in an airport café
over a cup of black coffee.
She doesn’t complain or blame the unguarded
machine, the noise of the factory, the job
with its long unbroken hours.
She simply opens her damaged hand and studies
the emptiness, the loss
of symmetry and flesh, and tells me
it was a small price to pay,
that her missing finger taught her
to take more care with her life,
with what she reaches out
to touch, to stay awake when she’s awake
and listen, to pay attention
to what’s turning in the world.
Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1994
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.