"Five Fingers"

by Jeph Johnson


Hours from the womb,
In moma's lovin' arms,
Sucking your thumb for security
Closing both your eyes,
Not because you don't know
What lies ahead
But because mama's
Love is all you feel.


Toddler years go by,
No longer safe from harm,
Asking mom questions for clarity
Pointing your finger
Because you don't know
What the answers are;
You're so skeptical
Of all that is real.


The middle school bully's
Vindictive words sting
Extending both your "fuck off" fingers
At him after class
Because lashing out
Appears the solution
For a boy like you
To muster a smile.


She's the one you want 
So they tattoo a ring
Encircling your left hand's third finger.
Her dark eyes met yours
For what you hoped
Was all eternity
But you settled for just
Once in a while.


You climbed up that
Corporate ladder at last.
Extending your pinky sipping wine
You hold your glass tight,
As if to write off
Many oversights;
Lovers who no longer
Know you exist.


Trembling hands reaching out
To shake off your past.
You failed when the rest kept on trying.
Gripping together
Hands that should meet
In a loving embrace
Instead make an angry
Pair of clenched fists.

Author's Notes/Comments: 


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