Nondominant Hand: A Fragment – Tom Zimmerman

My dad went ambidextrous after Vietnam:
a mortar shell hit near his jeep and broke
his shoulder. Mom drew pigs and dogs but never
horses with her left, a cigarette
pinched in her right. My sisters, lefties both.
And I’ve slugged with my right hand all my life:
my left is bigger though. I see Mom’s soft
hands now: her long white fingers stained old gold
with nicotine. She never got to San
Francisco. I’ve gone for her, worked it out
in half-assed poems. “Never wanted kids,”
she used to say, smoke jetting from the corner
of her mouth. “A free spirit’s what I should
have been.” My dad lived milder, rubbing lotion
in his hands at night: the letters he
delivered daily sucked the oil out.
And two beers in, he’d joke and wave those hands
like great beige birds. No, don’t say mourning doves.

Thomas Zimmerman (he/him) teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits The Big Windows Review at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. His poems have appeared recently in Streetcake Magazine and The Minison Project. His latest book is Domestic Sonnets (, 2021). Website:  https:/  Twitter: @bwr_tom   Instagram: tzman2012

Photo by Swapnil Sharma on