Tuesday, May 3, 2011

All Thumbs

All Thumbs

If everyone is dirty, no one is dirty.
The dirt on my face is on yours
so we don’t think to wipe it away.

Much strangeness can be erased
when it is shared. For instance,
let’s say that none of us can play

volleyball, we hated that week
in gym class every year, did not
know where to stand or how to hit

the ball, our hands never folded
gracefully into one another, thumb
over thumb. So we are all thumbs

when it comes to volleyball.
And look, it is gone. Together
we can be comforted by inability.

Goodbye, pressure. We can all lift
it above and away from us, a crowd
surfer we pass overhead to the edge.

The other good news: if an oddness
of yours cannot be shared, we can
applaud it. We need you so much,

you are a volleyball champion
even though the sport went extinct
many years ago, you are an anomaly.

You retrieve the ragged net, and we
gather around you to watch you jump
and tap the ball with fingertips, as if

you were full of helium and pushing
yourself away from the sky. Your hands
help you back to the ground where

we love you because you are unlike us.
And yet, you are here among us, who can
be anything but (blissfully) not everything.


  1. Another big topic done up as only poetry can be -- with lots of deep breaths and quantum leaps. I've been reading Symborska lately and I swear sometimes I can't tell you two apart -- that's a good thing!!! This one nicely gets out of the way of its own movement to let individual thoughts echo out. It has a real quality of intimacy, too; I feel like it is about me and my friends, the poet-players of the extinct game of volleyball.

  2. Love it. You put together the two obsessions in my household! Poetry + volleyball. Not to mention thumbs!

  3. Oh Hannah...this is my new favorite...I imagine some violent sports may go extinct and the champions will be left behind...I sometimes wonder! xoxo

  4. I continue to admire how you take the ordinary and make it into something with universal import. Wonderful poem!

  5. "Together we can be comforted by inability" is my favorite line in this one. I hope you read this one.


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