I am the man with nine fingers in a jar. The man who is one finger short of a hand. The man who hides a boy in his belly. The boy who won’t go belly up. The man who smiles too quickly, laughs at the wrong line of the joke. The boy who swims with a torn dorsal fin. The man who grasps a harpoon. The whale who wishes he were a man. The whale whose vision dims the deeper he goes, who sees double. The boy who keeps one man in the mirror, another in the woods out back. The woodshed becoming a man at night. Padlocked golem, shivering timbers. A sliver in the finger of the boy, his whole hand soaking in Epsom salts. His whole body a hand. The boy who fingerpaints the face of a father in beach sand. The man who jolts awake in class, too big for his britches. The boy who whittles the man down to a hatchet-faced king. The buzz of a card deck spraying the floor. The man grown tired of boy’s games, his back too sore to bend over and pick up the mess, who confesses I am the boy, rooted belly-deep, cutting the deck and dealing again.
Margo LaPierre on “Pickup Fifty-Two”
This piece riffles through language and time with surprising, quiet horror and time-piercing introspection. A mythic quality suffuses the man, the hand, the mirror, the deck, the woods out back. Laconic yet iterative, this beguiling poem speaks playfully of age and holds its secrets like a sliver in the finger.