Melinda LePere, "Amputations"




The ring finger of grandfather’s right hand, clean cut

just above the knuckle, was the one I held. The nub,

smooth as the velvet on a spring stag’s horn,

if stroked, vibrated a plaintive itch—like fur

rubbed the wrong way—if bumped,

throbbed like a new bobbed tail.


My father kept his thumb by allowing

the severing blade to complete its circuit.

Clutched the looseness of it, fastened by a slip of skin,

tight within his fist. Reattached, it was as if

he had cheated the sacrifice—our cleavings

like unaware animals, offered up

to some primal force as the cost of passage.


I can scan a hand from across a room.

At the Harley museum, I sidle up

to the three-fingered construction worker,

exchange stories like trading cards.

His, a careless foreman; mine, lost

on the Sahara. You might think

it’s the cataclysm that keeps us linked,

but it’s a connection of transition—


to marvel in the missing—that attracts me.

The way a glove reports a vacancy. Three fingers

adjust to tap the keys. The singing presence

of a molecular echo—a trick of the nervous system—

keeping us attached to an absence.


Melinda LePere's poetry has appeared in Paterson Review, The MacGuffin, MetroTimes, and the anthology At the Edge of Mirror Lake.