Tag Archives: money

As in the Beginning

“As in the Beginning” by Mary di Michele is a grimly realistic retelling of events that express regret, anger and bitterness.

Theme:

A person’s loss of limb can never be adequately recompensed with money; when someone we love is injured, his/her pain can become ours.

Techniques:

  • parallel structure
  • simile
  • alliteration
  • personification
  • understatement

Issues:

What makes us whole?

Why does the speaker describe the “man” so objectively in the first nine lines of the poem.

How does the tone of the poem change after the first nine lines?

To what extent does the speaker understate or overstate the emotions associated with his/her father’s situation?

Which lines or phrases do you think express what the speaker is feeling most powerfully? What do these lines convey to them?

What is the significance of the title?

“As in the Beginning” by Mary di Michele
A man has two hands and when one
gets caught on the belt and his fingers
are amputated and then patched
he cannot work. His hands are insured
however so he gets some money
for the work his hands have done before.
If he loses a finger he gets a flat sum
of $250 for each digit &/or $100 for a joint
missing for the rest of his stay on earth,
like an empty stool at a beggar’s banquet.
When the hands are my father’s hands
it makes me cry although my pen must keep scratching
its head across the page of another night.
To you my father is a stranger
and perhaps you think the insurance paid is enough.

Give me my father’s hands when they are not broken
and swollen,
give me my father’s hands, young again,
and holding the hands of my mother,
give me my father’s hands still brown and uncallused,
beautiful hands that broke bread for us at table,
hands smooth as marble and naked as the morning,
give me hands without a number tattooed at the wrist,
without the copper sweat of clinging change,
give my father’s hands as they were in the beginning,
whole,
open,
warm
and without fear