My Brother’s Middle Finger

Posted on 03 November 2009

is still scarred, where a line of white skin
crinkles above a rough knuckle.
I was five when the machine at work
took a bite of him, didn’t like the taste,
spit his finger back out, the story used
to relieve my baby sister worries.
Scared by the stitches, swollen
and jagged like the cuts made
by my mother’s pinking shears, I knew
that the bone had been severed, his finger
dangling by a thin band of skin.
I feared work the same way most kids
feared the monster in the closet.
The year before, a classmate’s sister
had died, when a machine’s gear grabbed
her by the hair, dragged her into an abyss
of clamps and chains, wouldn’t let go.
I had learned early that work left bite marks
in the form of dirt and dark bruises,
that machines could turn flesh inside out
so that it puckered and disappeared.

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