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My pointer finger

It found my mother’s face first, when my pointer finger was more hand than finger, more foreign connection than mine. I don’t remember the first time I pointed it at anyone, but I know some things it used to trace. The satin around my blankets, the tip of my nose, our cats.

It knows many men’s jaw bones. Has been the single remaining finger when I reach their chins, has tucked underneath where their tongues are, has pulled them closer to me. It has jabbed chests and said playful things like “My eyes are up here”. My pointer finger has gone into my own mouth when I am on my stomach, has had someone else’s finger next to it there, too. I have thought how child-like even though nothing else about the moment was.

My pointer finger has pointed at lines on pages while I teach children to read. I tell them to follow it. Follow my finger. Sound out that word. You’re doing well. It taps new words. It taps characters’ faces and asks how they seem. How do you know they’re sad? My pointer finger points at children on certain lines to emphasize an author’s point. It folds onto my lap to show children how they should sit when they hear a story, when they really listen.

I know the ring size of my pointer finger only. I like the feeling of it pointing at men and asking for something. I do not know how to look at my ring finger without thinking about marriage. My pointer finger touches the keyboard more than any other finger. There are times I have only typed with it, all jabs and deliberate letters. When I think about swimming, it is the most powerful finger. When I was eighteen and got arrested, it is the one I remember being fingerprinted first. I thought I’m in the system now and did not know what that meant. I pictured my fingers killing someone and leaving a trace.

My pointer finger is long and skinny like the rest of me. The nail is tiny and square and painted a color called Suzi Skis in the Pyrenees. A man recently pointed at them when they were painted Black Onyx and said, “Gothic Amanda” and I said, “I paint them dark colors a lot.” I have used my pointer finger to grip his neck and squeeze. I have used it to pull him towards me by his bottom teeth.

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