Left Hand, the lesser, in splints;
Trauma victim, cut by a chipped plant-pot.
On a sickly, creamy, fleshy backdrop,
I see pink-tipped blushing finger prints,
Heart lines, life lines, criss-crossed sharp lines,
Strained veins that pull towards my palm,
Broken, by the crescent, sickle-shaped scar:
The stitched-up frown of my flesh shines.
Now look at the unscarred flesh of Right Hand,
The preferred, the wielder of the pen.
You are jealous, Left Hand, I understand,
You bear heavy on my conscience friend.
I implore you Left Hand to stir me! Move me
From shameful indifference to pity!
I wrote this poem as part of a Creative Writing module at university whilst studying English Literature and had a lot of fun writing it. Originally, we were given the prompt of describing our left hand, which allowed me to describe in detail the circular scar on my hand resulting a floppy disk-related injury at the tender age of two. It does actually look a little bit like a sickle, which some of my former students commented made it look like Communist propaganda. Fun fact: until I was around six, I believed everyone had a circle shape on their left hand, and was perturbed to discover it was just me.
I had originally written this poem in free verse, but felt it had no direction and was a bit flimsy, so I subsequently disposed of it. However, after I read Quoof by Paul Muldoon, I was inspired to turn ramblings about my hand into a comedic sonnet. You can read Muldoon’s sonnet about a weird name for a hot water bottle below:
by Paul Muldoon
How often have I carried our family word
for the hot water bottle
to a strange bed,
as my father would juggle a red-hot half-brick
in an old sock
to his childhood settle.
I have taken it to so many lovely heads
or laid it between us like a sword.
A hotel room in New York City
with a girl who spoke hardly any English,
my hand on her breast
like the smoldering one-off spoor of the yeti
or some other shy beast
that has yet to enter the language.
I loved the idea of writing a sonnet, which is typically a love poem, about something unconventional. It made for a humorous contrast with the silly subject matter of a left hand feeling inferior to the right hand within the poetic gravitas of a sonnet; I attempted to convey a sense of bathos by dealing with such a mundane topic in an elevated form. This encouraged me to use the heightened, lofty language juxtaposed with playful internal rhymes to further emphasise the silliness.