Opposable Thumbs

It may have been around the time the coelacanth flopped ashore;

closed it’s gills to water breathing to suck the dry primordial air,

shivered with evolutionary purpose, and stood, stiff-finned–

and walked toward feet with toes and fingered hands,

that the thumb first appeared.

Perhaps like a flounder’s traveling eye it started here and ended there,

better suited to the opposable position from which it spawned

the fist, the grasp, the cerebral cortex and politics,

for it is in the exertion of the thumb against

the fingers that the hand holds,

just as the naming of those against whom one struggles

for ascendance begets us versus them.

One cannot be had without the other.


©   dana hughes    1.14.14

Lost in Translation


Last night the cicadas held a concert in the backyard,

singing Stravinsky and a bit of Bartok,

and other symphonic pieces transposed for insect choir.


By morning they were spent; gone to their cicada bower

high in the leafy realm to rest their voices.

Yet one remained, trilling a desperate measure of Strauss

as a mockingbird caught her by the wings.


All afternoon the mockingbird sings a reprise

of the cicada’s lament, unmindful in her mimicry

that her interpretation is too bright and bouncy

for words of such fervent pleading:

Lassen Sie mich gehen! O ließ mich gehen!

Let me go!  O let me go!


©  dana  hughes

Breakfasting With Birds

Fledged in the avian variant of oshkosh with brown spangles on orange bib,

the half-grown robin studied a bit of katydid left behind on the sidewalk,

picked it up, put it down, picked it up, put it down, turned, tasted

and finally ate it,

then tore through the pinestraw in search of slithery treasure buried there,

while a feather’s length away, proud poppa hopped, and with flutter

and chirp, reminded the lad of the need, while out of the nest,

to eat fast and play less.


© dana hughes


The Hickory has gone golden amid a stand of oak,

that wring their paling leaves like ten thousand pair

of worried hands, fretful of the change and annoyed

by the inconstance of green, and so convinced

that loss could be nothing but brown, they

kept their limbs close when Midas wandered by,

finding only one that dared risk the glory of his touch.

©  dana hughes