Mother’s Toenails


today i cut my mother’s toenails.
she says that it is lovely.
she is having an operation on monday.
she says that when she cuts her toenails
a muscle in her stomach pushes up in front of her rib. that afterwards she has to shove that muscle back down. that she suspects this is the consequence of childbirth. today, she says, they have physios who help you through the process.
i say, that must be painful.
it is, she says.
only a mother can make you feel guilty for having been born.
her toenails are small, yellow. they look like mine. i wonder aloud how she has survived without someone else to cut them. as she says, pedicures. her doctors will not allow her painted nails. apparently doctors stare at fingers and toes. they watch them for discolouration. for the blues.
i wonder what sort of fetishist came up with this.
every time i talk about my mother’s toe nails, i talk as if i’m a character from the silence of the lambs.
clarice… everything hangs in the top of the mouth…. clarice…
my mother’s name is mum.
my aunty says, toenails are basically designed for someone else to cut them.
i wonder, why me?
in the background, cooking shows. my aunt loves cooking and crime. i told her once they should make a show called ‘cooking up a crime’. in her demographic, it would be a hit.

an indian woman says we whisk it, so it becomes creamy. we don’t want it lumpy.
lumpy is my mother’s spine.
on monday, a doctor will stare at her toenails. they will open her up like a lamb. i will likely be in another state.
i tell her i am writing a poem about her toes. she laughs.
she says, why is that? i say, because we all have toes. she does not seem to like this answer.

i suppose i could say, because we all have fears. that some days can’t be clipped. that we sit around wriggling in little clans.
but i would only say this to make myself feel better. to be in other states.

i don’t say this. i talk like this. clarice. i do not say this.

Share This