Thumbnail Sketch

When the doctor examined
my hand, like a palm reader,
the white line midway
across my thumbnail
attracted his gaze.
“Something happen
three months ago?”
he asked. “A car wreck?
Some trauma?”
No calendar was required
to pinpoint that moment
when my world turned
upside down as I tried
to stand upright.

I can still conjure
the chill that spliced me.
Beau’s lines, they are called,
these thin scrawled lines,
white like frostwork,
that record a moment’s upheaval.
(Not to be confused with Mees’ lines,
which, as both medical examiners
and literary sleuths can testify,
delineate the introduction
of arsenic poisoning,
or other heavy metals.)

So here’s my little thumbnail sketch,
my life spelled out
in the matrix of my nail,
a woven tapestry of cells,
soul bared to the world.
My nail plate, a living tapestry
renewed each morning,
but undone at intervals.
Every six months, a closed book.
So, too, on Penelope’s loom
hung a woven tapestry,
never quite finished.
Each day’s work exposed to view.
Her search for a happy ending
kept in check her yearning
to tie off and knot
the tapestry
from its loom frame.

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