This entry is part 32 of 34 in the series Small World


The first thimble was the tanned hide
of an enemy’s thumb. Whisky
had yet to be invented, but
needles were employed as lances
in desperate finger-to-finger combat.
Battlefields were so numerous,
they were stacked into other battlefields
like Russian dolls. Soon, brass
was pressed into use, & one armorer
began dimpling the surface
to ward off smallpox.
Prostitutes made their Johns (then
still called Jacks) wear thimbles
on every finger, because who knew
where those hands had been?
Meanwhile they were measuring ale
with the horns of bulls. Guts
were spilling from unprotected abdomens.
If you didn’t want a sorceror’s tongue,
you couldn’t stare open-mouthed
at the pock-marked moon.

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