- This hand has the skin and fingers of an animal.
— Jim Harrison, “Patagonia Poem”
I’m pure and perfectly formed in this clean shirt.
I see wrinkles along one hand, but am not convinced
it’s my hand. It does what I tell it to do,
mostly. So does the dog. Is that my paw
chasing sparrows in the back yard?
If I crouch low, keep my teeth covered—
and, with a little luck, the birdies get
distracted by glints from a neighbor’s pickup—
I might crawl close. I can reach out
and swipe at those birds. I could
catch one between my sharpest two fingers—
I might press it down and hold my mouth over.
With the soft pad at the tip of my longest finger,
I might feel the heart beating beneath thin skin of the throat.
If it’s truly my hand—at that moment of contact—I’ll
let go, watch the bird reach out my other hand to the sky.