On the Subject of Fingers and Thumbs

by Christopher Reid
A blister like a moonstone,
a semi-precious thing –
when as a child I first grew one
I wanted it never to disappear.
It came from digging with a small fork
in my patch of the garden,
from which eventually I collected
a bowl of fat mouse-tailed radishes.
Then the black dirt that packed
hard under my nails,
adding a strange load to my fingers,
gave me a powerful thrill.
I was too young to know why,
but a thought occurred to me:
of saving it all up in a box
for some vague future purpose.
Who knows, I might have acquired enough
to start a new garden.
But the dirt was washed away
and the blister subsided pathetically.
In some ways I am still as childish.
There is a book I love
less for the words it contains
than for the smudge of my thumb on its fore-edge.

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