A Poem about Laterality
Why does the right hand get all the good jobs,
like greeting visiting dignitaries
(such a pleasure) ,
or blowing farewell kisses to the one you love
(such sweet sorrow) ,
or playing the melody while the left
has to oompah along in the bass?
Right-handers get the best adjectives too.
I mean, we’d all like to be
adroit (as the French have it) .
So why do we poor southpaws have to be
gauche or, while we’re about it, gawky?
Tactless, without grace, ungainly, awkward,
physically and socially inept, that’s us.
And Latin’s no better.
We’d like to be dextrous too.
What makes us
sinister? Was Dracula
left-handed, or something?
Even when we can hammer
or saw or paint or drive a screw
with either hand equally,
or cut the nails on both sets of fingers,
they only say we are ambi-
dextrous, which is a bit of a left-handed
compliment, treating the left
as if it were an honorary right,
as if it had no right
to be skilful
in its own right.
I suppose my left hand ought to be grateful
(in this respect) that I was not born
into a tradition where it is laid down
what each hand can do. It could have been
condemned to a lifetime
of bottom-wiping and not much else,
and becoming cack-
handed in more ways than one.
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