Galileo’s Finger

18 April 2018

You’d expect to find it in a natural
history museum, perching
among dry insects long
extinct. The knuckles bend
like a caterpillar
lacing its glass

Or, this last vestige of a fist
could fit in the Neanderthal
exhibit, the nail an arrow
head chiselled by prehistoric
astronomers hunting

Instead, Florence displays
Galileo’s finger in a bell
jar, among instruments
for reading stars, among spheres
that reduce planets to arms
on a clock. The years slipped
by and eclipsed his eyes.

Now his finger itches
to hatch from its enclosure
of moulting skin, inch up
beyond the down lights
to the paper-thin sky,
where the orbs are aligned
like Braille.

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