Category Archives: National Poetry Month

Geography of Self

Today, while looking at my nails
I noticed that a mountain range has erupted
where once there was smooth land.
I have to wonder at this seismic shift and,
like every other change,
I blame it on age.
I remember the strange tool my mother would use
to erase the mountains on the surface of her own nails.
Once finished, she would hand it to me as if to say,
“Practice, because one day you will need this.”
But I never did.
My nails stayed smooth for years, until now.
I think about buffing away that landscape
and painting over top of it-
as if a coat of paint could stop these mountains from resurfacing.
Like everything else she taught me,
it has happened too late to understand the lesson.
The explanation was left unsaid and the meaning is lost.

So I use my other thumb nail to ski the slopes of its twin and ponder what else I missed.
What will happen when valleys of wrinkles take over my face
and I cannot remember how to smooth that surface
with foundation and concealer?
When my legs become roadmaps of all the walking and standing
and I cannot remember how to disguise them by wearing stockings under shorts?
When I am, like her, riddled with cancer but delighted by weight loss?
What happens when I take everything about myself and
destroy it,
conceal it
and lose it
until my very self,
like hers,
is no more than a half complete lesson,
a fragment of a sentence,
a story with no ending?