The boy gets both his hands caught
in the boat propeller’s path. He is young and it is instantaneous.
Fortunately, the thumbs are tossed back into the boat.
Fortunately, they do not fall into the lake:
do not settle their pale bellies on the silt
where catfish suckle the thumbs like infants
with their hard faces, so far down from water
lapping the aluminum boats, engines thundering.
The father scoops them up, puts them in the cooler with the bait.
The boy has twin scars like rings
where the surgeon put them back on. He can feel only pressure
where they’ve been reattached, the nerves rising up
but never making it to the surface
as he rubs his hand across his short, cropped hair
and cannot feel texture there—as he holds the glass
up to his mouth and cannot feel cold, wet,
just the hard tinking of the ice. Sometimes years later,
even as a man, he hides them tight in his palms,
holds them up to his mother, pretends:
Look, Ma, no thumbs. He likes to see her squirm
a little. He loves to think
of his hands and their what-could-have-been.
Such a different world than this one, where the old wound grazes
a young woman’s breast, the nipple’s rosette
briefly disappearing under his thumb’s tight scar.
Kara Krewer grew up in Georgia but has called the Midwest home for most of her adult life. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, and Prodigal. She holds an MFA from Purdue University, where she teaches film and composition. She currently lives in Lafayette, Indiana, with her husband and their large, orange cat.