At the Brezel Bar in Manly
upmarket bakery whose specialty
is pretzels I held out my hand.
The woman at my table – grey-haired
neatly cropped, blue-eyed,
remarked on my girdle of Venus
and the shortness of my fingers
in relation to my palm.
Practical, she said, though I was sure
she meant peasant, which is what
I’d always suspected – no aesthete me
nor even a skerrick of refinement,
a fire hand is what I have, which means
emotionally intelligent and surprise!
a tendency to manipulate.
Manipulate. Now there’s a word.
How did it get to be derogatory?
thought I, munching on my pretzel,
pondering hot dogs as I did so
like those they sold on Coney Island,
under the Ferris wheel, next to
that creaking roller coaster.
It used to mean skill,
from the Latin for handful
and I believe in skill as I believe
in hands, more specifically,
in making things, I’m truly
in awe of making things,
and fixing things,
above all, with one’s hands.
We’ve lost that, maybe forever,
the wily machines we’ve made
will soon be taking over,
baking bread and pretzels without us.
It’s all in the head now,
bugger the fingers, the fiery palm
the touch of a calloused hand.