Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I Have A Friend
I work with my hands all day but I rarely injure them. A long time ago I wearied of hurting myself in minor ways and began to keep a lookout for things that might bite me on the way through my palms. I thought it was a sign of foolishness to willingly submit to the abrasion of the hands while working until they felt like curbstones. One does not have to work dumb to work hard. But who of us is perfect?
It was nothing, really. My hands are cold and so made ten percent clumsy and I have a headache and it's only in the forties in here and the board passes along your hand as you feed it and it leaves its tiny child in the meat of your thumb. It's too small to pluck back out -- small enough to be entirely subsumed in the flesh. I won't dig it out. It will throb a bit for a week or so, and then be forgotten. It is my friend.
It doesn't want anything of me. It only gives. It reminds you constantly, just a gentle sussurus of discomfort whispered lovingly into my ear via my thumb: Look out! Remember.
It's the only advice worth a damn. Everyone's full of advice. Advice generally should be taken by the giver. It's information that suits them, after all. The board didn't have any advice beforehand. It showed me something. It is equally mute now. The splinter sticks by me.
I got lots of advice when I caught the poverty. I got it from people that I figure would lay down and die if they were in my place. They are clarks and tollbooth operators and sleep at work whether their eyes are open or not, and wonder aloud why I didn't just find a featherbed like they did. What's wrong with you? Why don't you find one now?
They shun us, now. It's not in the front of their head, it's way in the reptile back, but the decision is the same: They might catch the poverty from us. Best find a way to forget our phone number. You knew it well enough when you needed things from us. But now we must be lonely because it is the only way others can deal with it.
The splinter isn't just a companion. He is a good friend. He talks to me about important matters. Life, death, pain, resolution, patience, risk -- even kindness, because the same machine that delivered a sliver can take a finger; a limb; a life. But it can deliver a living, too, if you learn to get along with it.
I'd be all alone more than I'd like without this little bit of pinus strobus. I know he'll stay with me until I don't need him anymore, and then he'll go. He won't make a big deal of leaving, either; one day I'll just notice that my thumb used to hurt, and now it doesn't.
I always remember kindnesses paid to me. I'll remember every splinter.