Rebecca Rutstein and the Ocean Memory Project, "Blue Dreams" (2023), still from the 2 minute and 40 second digital video.

Zinc Fingers

Though scientists inform us that criminals
have insufficient zinc I’ve always believed
it’s insufficient gold and silver that gets
them going    The man who slipped his hand into
my front pocket on the jammed Paris Metro
wasn’t trying to make friends    His overcoat
smelled greasy and it was unpleasant holding
hands above my wallet pressed in on all sides
like stacked baguettes    There was no way to move or
take a swing    Still some action on my part seemed
to be called for: we stood nose to nose    I tried
to look in his eyes but he stared at my chin
shy on our first date so after a while as
we rattled along toward the Champs-Élysées

I lost concentration and began to think

of our scholarly daughter working at Yale
on a project called Zinc Fingers    scanning a
protein with pseudopods each with a trace of
zinc that latch on to our DNA and help
determine what we become    This brought me back
to mon ami the pickpocket: I wondered
how he chose his hard line of work and if as
a boy he was good at cards for example
or sewing for that matter what choice did
I have either so when we reached our stop and
he looked up from my chin at last I smiled at
him and his eyes flashed in fear or surprise and
I called It’s OK    as he scuttled away
Tout va bien!    though I held tight to my wallet

Illustration by Shonagh Rae

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Cite this Article

Meinke, Peter. “Zinc Fingers.” Issues in Science and Technology 39, no. 4 (Summer 2023): 38.

Vol. XXXIX, No. 4, Summer 2023