Poem In Which A Girl Paints My Nails

The frown and precision of a surgeon
cutting little pieces of my skin clean
in a Hello Kitty mouth mask, cotton
swabbing, peach chemical on cuticle.

Head down, quiet, you rub palms with lotion,
solemn, aesthetic manipulation.
A tiny lacquered fan for keratin,
painting each fingertip like porcelain.

Behind: examples of synthetic nails
pinned in a frame like rainforest beetles.
Two women select colours like snow cones,
the four of us form a swatch of skin tones.

With its hot dryers blowing tropical
fake flowers, basins of aquamarine,
this room can beautify every gene
combination and melanin portion.

As you dip new hands like heads to a font,
manicurist, you know this: women want
hands that throw light and conjure images
into dark neural pathways, recesses.

Francine Elena


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