Thousand Dollar Thumbs

By Robin Merrill

You cut the left one off with a table saw.

Good doctor sewed it back on. Called you lucky.

Next summer, the right one got gobbled up

by a bear trap. Took twenty stitches to repair it.


Driving home, your father coined the pair:

your thousand dollar thumbs. I didn’t know

these stories the first time I felt them,

left one bigger than it should be and crooked.

right one shrunken and hard as a knot,

scarred up like maps my fingers followed.


Ugly and perfect, your thumbs traced out my spine.

Callous caress so extraordinary, call me lucky.

Now our grandkids hang off them, unaware of their history.

Now morning’s clumsy thumbs fumble shirt buttons.

But I am here to help you. Call us both lucky. 

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2005 Robin Merrill. Reprinted from “Laundry and Stories,” Moon Pie Press, 2005, by permission of Robin Merrill. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc at or 228-8263.

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