clipping the old man’s nails

 Clipping the old man’s nails, it seems inhuman to grow anything so strong, the ridges mirror the whorls in his fingers he kisses my arm and I ignore this, follow the curve of nail over finger. This part is like a moon, too. He forgets what I’m doing and moves too much. I snap at him. Feel like a mother, since his family has left for California. This is where I come to save you. Already the night has threatened while I pretended to dream. The fire would be beautiful and violet-edged. The fall would be exactly like the earth opening. The heat would drop you to sticky slumber, reminding you of the womb. The gas would touch you like a memory, then drop your eyelids, heavy. I am here to save you. Stumbling in with love wounds and shaky hands. Here to chop wash cook mop sift empty and close. Put back what you thought should be out. Take the dolls from the walls and the flags from your collars. (But I leave the rubber bands in the fridge, ‘cause I, too, think they are happy there, cold and nestled into themselves…we both put our fingers into the bowl, satisfied.) He has hidden the fan again. I have to take the bananas from the microwave. Put the ice cream back in the freezer. Sift through what seems like years of junk mail—red inked pleas, Native American girls with matted hair, the horse murders, the NRA… Nancy Pelosi has written him a personal letter. These are my moons. These are my ridges. This one, this purple one, is from a bruised heart door slam in the heat of a southern summer. These are the scars from Iraq when fixing planes. Red planes. Small wings. The way they lifted like grasshoppers up into the sky. I hold his hand and clip his nails. Everyone knows the only way to cut someone else’s nails is to pretend they are your own.

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