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In Praise of Thumbs

If you wish to 

Find the fulcrum 

Of all your balances, 

All counterpoising 

Of body and soul, 

You need only look 

With exquisite care at 

How your thumbs 

Quietly, minutely conduct 

The harmonies of 

Every motion set 

Adrift by the 

Less-than-conscious brain. 

Hardly anyone knows 

Id-is persona well enough 

To appreciate the false-fold 

At finger base, where third 

Joint and palm seam together 

Halfway down bone to 

Create an illusion of flexion. 

One's lifeline actually 

Rises just beneath 

The knobs of knuckles. 

That's thumbs' own secret 

And lies at the heart 

Of their eternal laughing 


In Praise of Thumbs II

The perishability of clay 

Isn't common knowledge 

But to potters and others 

Whose fields of play 

Require permeability beyond 

The common run of slippage. 

It's only by grace of thumb, 

That ruler of eye and muscle, 

That we find the skill 

Of molding, kneading, 

Forming, stroking, 

Smoothing, parching, 

Wetting, juicing, 

Wringing, wresting, 

Flatting, rounding, 

Turning, pinching. 

So too the emphatic 

Punctuator of grasp 

Discovers those other 

Skills of sculpting 

That require yielding 

Appression of bone to flesh 

For expressing the undammed 

Measure of energies 

No other artist's tool 

Can summon forth 

From stores witheld 

Until pointilles of 

Prescient harmony oppose 

The deft fingerings of 

Bach to those of 

Bacchus ad libatum. 

- David W. Mitchell

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