Prairie Poetry   
  Little Ten Fingers

They called him Little Ten Fingers. 
On the farm, it was nothing to boast of,
but Jack had all his parts in tact: ten long fingers
and ten smug toes enclosed
in mud-soled hand-me-downs.
His father had lost a thumb to a picker,
Vince two fingers to the whirring corn shredder;
even baby Jan had a nub
where one whole pinkie should have been:
he called it Shorty.
“Savin’ em to play the piano?”
they laughed, as Jack’s sound hands
tossed bales in the mow. 

He made up for it eventually.
A retired man,
alone at night on inherited land
he put his hand through the whizzing belts of a combine
like a fist into a hive.
He lost three, no one there to see and cheer.
Months later, using his left hand
he drew a face on the healed-over stump,
thumb and pinkie closing like arms,
to make a puppet for his grandkids.
They shrieked with laughter,
bouncing on the couch around him,
their small hands clinging to his wrist like starfish.

  Jacqueline West
  Copyright © 2006 Jacqueline West
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