At Model Nails

by on January 24, 2014 :: 0 comments

In early morning light,
large black eyes stare
from his shower-fogged mirror.
He compares his profile
with worn photo of his father.
Once, his mother stitched it to a secret
panel in a sleeve of her silk tunic
to hide her lover’s face from Viet Cong.

His mind wanders back
to days of childhood.
Cruel taunts prattle
from Vietnamese tongues,
chattered whispers return,
full volume.

“You children without fathers
are like homes without roofs.”
Fucking Amerasian dirt.
Ugly bastard left-over! Child of dust!
Who’s your Daddy?

At Model Nails, he scrubs
dead skin from feet, massages
lavender in cracked soles,
trims toenails, hundreds of phalanges.
More than two decades he worked,
stooped over, bending, twisting
from a little red three-peg stool.

He greets customers
with white toothy smiles,
massages legs in habitual
up and down rhythm, hums
an ancient song his mother sang
while she washed clothes
on muddy banks of The Mekong.
If she were here, he’d paint stars
and stripes on her nails, fireworks
or perhaps a blood-red flag
with a sinking yellow star…

editors note:

Come to escape a nightmare; hoping to grab the dream – we don’t notice. “A natural finish please and I’d like a glass of white.” – mh

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