The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Bernadette Geyer


Picked raw by nervous fingernails,
my motherís thumbs are scarred
and always bleeding. She has worried

her way through cartons of bandages
and gauze over her three daughters,
her husband. When I was a child,

I believed my mother could quash
Satan himself, like a gnat, under
her great ragged and powerful

thumbs. But now, I grasp her hands
in mine across the kitchen table
as we talk, thinking I am saving

those coarse digits, if only
for a moment. Instead, I merely
delay the inevitable movements,

talismans that keep her family safe.
Women in churches finger rosaries,
whispering prayers, but I

have learned to put my faith
in scabs that nervous hands
will not allow to heal.

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