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The Job

      for Tobey

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.

from What We CarryFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1994
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Dorianne Laux Poems

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