It is too bad that the mandolin got you; I’ve always
been a little shy of their slicing, their guillotine
action. I couldn’t help but wonder if you’d lose
your fingerprint when it heals, when the loose tip of skin
falls away under that bandage and splint.
I should mention, I suppose, that I thought it strange
this was the first I’d seen your hand up close
in, oh, five years; I was grateful to see it onscreen,
not in person, because real hands give off heat.
I should also tell you that at first, I didn’t see
that you’d sliced through your fingertip, just saw “finger”
and thought “love,” saw your nails and stopped to measure
against memory their length, the same square
shape at the base. I saw the ring on your other finger, not
the index, and thought about its cool gold rub. I saw “mandolin,”
and thought about that time when we knew it was over,
but while Carol King played on the turntable I stood
up from the dinner table and took you in my arms
and we danced next to the cooling remnants
of lasagna and I thought I might kiss you but you looked
down and said, “Don’t,” and before the song was over
we sat down, haltingly, aborted. And I’m sorry
about your hand, I am, but this is what I thought.