Fingernails

by Andrea Millares

 

Fingernails are the first to go. Hair stays coiffed,

shirts remain tucked

and eyes unbagged—

in the beginning, at least.

 

But my fingernails are the first to go.

Bitten and picked at, soon the floor is covered in tiny shards of white armor.

The skin curls back

like when the wind catches the pages of books I have no will to read

and my fingertips glow an ugly, irritated red.

Please, don’t look at my hands for too long.

You’ll see and you’ll know

and I don’t want anyone to know

not even you—

not yet.

And trust me, the unprotected flesh screams at me,

just like it whispers to you.

Your echo is not unwelcome,

 

but forgive me for getting frustrated with broken records—

Even when the tune is one I need to hear over and over again.

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