Fingerbowl Maneuver: A Sonnet

In my last blog post about the most influential teacher I ever had, Mr. Wilson, I recounted a time I was tasked with writing a sonnet and utterly (by perhaps only my own skewed standards) failed. That was, I believe, fall 2000. I did not attempt another sonnet until my second year of grad school–eight years later. What follows is the sonnet that saved me from a lifetime of fearing a poetic form.

With enough time, we can come around to anything, can’t we? I like to think so.

Fingerbowl Maneuver

I never touch my tongue to fork or spoon,
but scrape my teeth across the metal plate.
And this, they say, is strange. Why skim the top
of silverware with faintest edge of bone?
This quirk might speak to deeper things: mistrust
of food sipped from an ore, or fear to taste
the alloy’s age. Sheer speed protects the tongue.
To slight the fork is hardly cruel–what’s worse
is time inside the mouth. How should we eat?
Discard the tools and touch the food ourselves.
Take up the heat, the cold; let viscous stains
emboss the palms. Depose the go-between.
This turning hands to tongs will suit me fine—
I never balked at fingers in the mints.

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