Sunday, July 12, 2009

The five fingers of the hand

The Five fingers of the Hand

“An honest family, where there’s never been a bankruptcy, and where no one has ever been hung.”—the Lineage of Jean de Nivelle

The thumb is this flat Flemish innkeeper, with a lewd, grumbling temper, smoking on his doorstep at the sign of the double March beer.

The index is his wife, a bitch as dry as dried fish, who starts her day by slapping her maid in Jealousy, and stroking the bottle that she loves.

The middle finger is their son, a young man roughed out by an axe, who’d be a soldier if he wasn’t tending bar, and a horse if he weren’t a man.

The ring finger is their daughter, the quick and headstrong Zerbina, who sells lace to the ladies and doesn’t sell smiles to the soldiers.

And the little finger, the finger of the ear, is the youngest, the Benjamin of the family, a crybaby hanging from his mother’s waist like a child on a witch’s hook.

The five fingers of this hand are the most thorough slap in the face ever grown in the gardens of the noble city of Haarlem.

--Aloysius Bertrand (1842), from Gaspard de la Nuit



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