My Pointer Finger

All the parts of me count for something, are useful for something

Amanda Oliver
Human Parts
Published in
3 min readJul 13, 2019


Photo courtesy of author

ItIt found my mother’s face first, when my pointer finger was more hand than finger, more foreign connection than mine. It was probably the one on my right hand. I don’t know the first time I pointed it at anyone, but I know some things it used to trace. The satin around my blankets, the tip of my nose, our cats.

It knows many men’s jaw bones now. Has been the single remaining finger when I reach their chins, tuck it underneath their tongues, pull them closer to me by their gums.

My pointer finger has gone into my own mouth when I am on my stomach, has had someone else’s next to it there, too. I have thought how childlike even though nothing else about it was.

My pointer finger has pointed at lines on pages while I taught children to read. I told them to follow it. Sound out that word. You’re doing well. It tapped letters. It tapped characters’ faces and asked how they seem. Yes, but how do you know they’re sad?

My pointer finger folded with my other fingers, onto my lap, to show children how they should sit when they hear a story. How to show they’re really listening, all folded and quiet and unmoving, the exact opposite of being a child.

When I think about swimming, it feels like the most powerful finger of all the fingers in the process.

When I was eighteen and got arrested my pointer finger is the one I remember being fingerprinted first. I’m in the system now, I thought. I pictured that finger killing someone else and leaving its little trace.

My pointer finger is long and skinny, like most of the rest of me. The nail is tiny and square and painted a color called Suzi Skis in the Pyrenees. Years ago, a man pointed at them when they were painted Black Onyx and said, “Gothic Amanda.” I used my pointer finger to grip his neck and squeeze. I used it to pull him towards me by his bottom teeth.

My pointer finger hasn’t looped with anyone else’s in almost a year now. It does not feel lonely. It does not feel loneliness. Other parts of me do.

My pointer finger helps me pick up my coffee mug, helps adjust my glasses, helps wash me, move me, carry me, swing my arm. I write about it, write with it, and see, remember, feel that all parts of me count for something. Are useful for something.

This story was published in response to Human Parts’ Weekend Writing Prompt, “Tell the story of your body, its peaks and valleys, strengths and shortcomings and secrets, in whatever way feels true.” To receive prompts like this one every weekend, subscribe to our newsletter by following Human Parts.



Amanda Oliver
Human Parts

Author of OVERDUE: Reckoning with the Public Library • writer, editor, teacher •