Marlena Chertock

My brother pushed my index finger across the pencil-rubbed paper. “Now lift it up,”
he said. He stuck tape to my finger, pressed the gray swirled lines of my fingerprint
onto his homework sheet. He leaned in to the paper, traced the lines with his nail,
how they curl at the center. “It’s a loop!” he shouted, excited he matched my print
to a picture on the sheet. He grabbed my other fingers. Stopped
when he got to my fourth finger, frowned, asked, “Why is it a ring finger?”
“Because you put rings on it,” I said, pointing to my silver ring with a curling swirl.
He pressed my dad’s and his brother’s fingers to the lead, he needed more prints.
We sat at the table, three generations of arches, loops, and whorls made visible
with pencil.


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