Perfect

by Hugh Anderson
Desert Moon Review
Third Place (Tie), May 2012
Judged by Shara McCallum


Easy to take an orange, cup it in one hand,
dig the thumb of the other through the first sharp,
citrus, tang, or maybe use four fingers, gathering
zest under nails, then savour sweetness with an acid

edge. Simple enough to plot 207 bones
on a strand of DNA to shape the miracle who
grasps her mother’s little finger. Machinery
of wonder, bones, tendons, muscles, neurons
pulsing: open, close, grasp, loosen. And yet,

the microscopic god whose voice commands
cells to multiply and form forgot the words,
for one brief moment could not conceive the shape
of arms, forgot two bones. Not then
the wonder of creation nor even evolution’s

complexity, rather the perfection of being.
This perfect baby knows how her hands work, not
that they are different, knows how to pick
the smallest crumb between two fingers, knows
that I smile when she strokes my calloused palm.


This lyric-narrative poem is beautifully crafted, the poet’s control of diction and tone nearly flawless. Like the act of peeling an orange—the image that opens the poem—the poem itself is multi-layered and ‘unpeels’ as it unfolds to reveal the intersection of the personal and philosophical. For me, the poem is at its most “perfect” in the lines: “Not then/the wonder creation nor even evolution’s/complexity, rather the perfection of being.” Within this statement reside the poem’s central and lasting questions: What is “perfection”? What is the nature of “being”? --Shara McCallum

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