The Pianist's Thumb

The thumb, she says, 
has responsibility to hold
the hand's complete structure
in correct ergonomic position. If the thumb
abdicates this role
the palm, the wrist and arm, 
the trapezius muscle, the back
and of course the spine will twist askew.
All chance that single tones
might resonate full sound—
much less rondo or Lizst
will be forever compromised,
the hand hobbled by pain,
disabled from its job.

Who would have thought
the thumb must shoulder
such a burden?
Behold the man who heaved the globe,
holding torso and hips
like a discus thrower
before release,
lest the world fracture
or him who mastered Amalek
as others held his arms
outspread like eagles’ wings
even until the going down of the sun,
his posture securing triumph.

So, daily: she observes her thumbs,
making each one stretch        back and forth
under canopies of palm        up and down
properly inclined, sometimes
sounding one note only
or only in her ears
as she waves the air.

Thus the thumb, its discrete
spans of muscle aligned:
recalibrated each moment
by the diligent woman of exquisite practice
who labors for her fingers’ sake
and her touching of the keys beneath.