The Other Hand

by Tom Versteeg


first fire took hold
of my right hand later I learned
how to dry the tears of the blisters
without screaming then I began to say
thank you to the raw glove each morning
and evening to cherish
its grotesque filigree
to see promise in its ruined layers
before long I found myself
able to place the burnt tips of my fingers
on absolutely any vibration
and travel with it
in either direction all the way
though often the journey was perilous
eruptions and chasms broken glass and blind
corners and the threat always
of no return so that moment
by moment I could do little but cling
to whatever there was to be clung to
gripping the solid world hard
with all the strength in my good left hand

TOM VERSTEEG is a long-time resident of Spokane, Washington, where he teaches English at Spokane Falls Community College. Over the years, his poems have appeared in a variety of journals, Camas, Mid-American Review, and Rain City Review among them. He is a recipient of the Birmingham Poetry Review’s Dean’s Award for his poem “Thinking of the Heartland.”