Hemingway’s House in Key West

More of a change than any loss of virginity. Fear gone like an operation.


at 63
he matter-of-factly
slid his big toe
between the trigger
and the trigger guard
sucked the barrel tip
tasted burnt pellets
ream tongue back
through neck into
Rorschachs on the wall.

But the big toe took
no life–
ended the taking
to Paris, Italy, Africa,
to Madrid, Cuba and the Keys,
guiding the beloved Pilar
through the Florida Straits.

Once more he has wrought
a perfect symmetry–
no stale hoar ghost
doling out birthday interviews,
nursed like Ezra without
teeth without pen.

The big toe only punc-
tuated Papa’s art and
who are we to question
precision in the feet
of such an artist?

John S. Hatcher, A Sense of History, p. 89

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