Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Knuckle Bones - prose poem by Andrew Burke
I stood before the noticeboard and saw my name. Nerves kicked in. In boarding school change was regular: each Monday the roster for altar boys changed. Mass stayed the same, a daily constant in Latin, but we had a variety of priests, and among them a Hungarian, a refugee without English, whose accent refreshed the Mass. Things do change, don’t they, even dogma.
When I change, it surprises me.
Once, at what young age I can’t recall, I rejected a set of plastic knucklebones as a game, yet later, say two years later or less, I sun-dried bones out from the garbage and empty lots to make my own set of knucklebones. Arthritis came first to my knuckles, the same knuckles I punched in frustration against an office wall, working in a department store, selling goods marked up by too much per cent, paying for the first meals of my first born. Fish oil helps me write now, knuckles flexing over a qwerty keyboard. There is a cricket umpire, Billy Bowden, who has a strange calligraphy of signals for fours and sixes. My mind returns to the Hungarian priest when Billy holds up his arthritic fingers, hooked in the sky as he signals a six. Some in the crowd snigger at his movement whereas my dramatic young mind would have it that the refugee’s fingers were distorted by torture in Budapest yet still held Christ aloft so lovingly. Things change but in my mind small lanes run, a labyrinth, a maze.