Mortal Polish

Mortal Polish

by Christine Jackson


After a shower,

I assess my toes,

observe the cartilage

balanced over them

like scored tabletops,

hard stubs marred with

flecks, chips, cracks,

And maybe,

On the big one,

A milky patch of fungus.


The two smallest are completely bare,

pink naked skin;

The others have suffered

Electrifying collisions

With various bed castors.


I count the sorrows,

One for each piggy

That strayed to market

Instead of staying home

Safe in front of the flat screen:

Four funerals, two biopsies,

Two layoffs,

One totaled Nissan,

And a regimen of chemo,

Since I painted them last.


Do they grow after death?

Or does the flesh shrivel

Under the chitin plates,

Making them look longer?

Who would notice?


I dip the brush

And lacquer each square

With a protective coating,

A single layer of blood red

To cover seeping.


Christine Jackson grew up in New England and now teaches literature and creative writing at a South Florida university.  That is, she is supposed to teach but she continues to learn all kinds of stuff from her students.

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