Poem: “Finger Exercises (For Maddy)”

halos

Finger Exercises (For Maddy)

It’s cold these days.
Snow’s been on the ground since
Sunday night and the inertia makes
my fingers twitch. I practice drunk
driving exercises to keep warm, bringing the prints
tip to tip: one, two, three, four, four,
three, two, one. I repeat the motions
over and over like the first phrase
of a melody—cooking soup, waiting
for the bus, drying my towel on the rack.

To be clear, I never really knew Maddy.
I sat next to her on a step at the Halloween
party and probably told her that her
costume looked good, but I never saw her
run around the track, clicking off laps
like one, two, three, four,
four, three, two, one. I never felt her
skin after she spent the afternoon tanning
in the bleachers, the sun’s breath
on her toes and fingertips.

But like I said, it’s cold these days
and I don’t know what it means but my bus
drives by that parking garage she leapt off
every single morning. And I can’t stop myself
from wishing I was there when she made up her mind
so I could tell her that there are ways to keep
your fingers warm on cold days, that even if she
doesn’t remember what her friends’ hands feel like
she can keep count on her own—one, two, three,
four, four, three, two, one—until the bus comes
back around or the world gets a little warmer.

xo

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