You can never skip an opportunity to call yourself that Because you’re your ma’s son: Didn’t get caught up in the tool shed Got spiked through with the hooked art of repeating yourself instead
Should I feel insulted then That these cracked, digited fringes These rejects of your diminutive anatomy Are how you love me?
You love me with the unvoiced, unexplained idiocy Of fingers that make Mexican waves To one particular song And lure mine to come dancing too
You love me with the whorls where you keep your DNA Counting the concaves in my skeleton: Explore them, soothe them Wonder if you made them
And I think you fear that If you ceased to trace me as I grew – A carpenter sifting through the age rings in my spine – I’d only feel the dislocating vagueness Of an absence too menial to be mourned.
“Cack-handed” But I remember different: I remember your hands like leather, All heated and scratchy from your pockets, Unhooking the problems from my mouth. And how the weather’d teethed on them, Gnawed away chunks down around the cuticles Until they were dry and scarred like February – February getting lost in its own bleak cavernousness
They stir the rag in the shoe polish, And the burnt spoon in the bean tin.
I used to try to pinch them But my nails were too soft And your palms too crusted But when they tell me “thick-skinned” I shake my head and think “No, beautifully cack-handed”