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My nails don’t grow the way they used to.

They’re brittle now; raw; ragged;

Torn so many times I forgot what they used to look like.

But the moment the whites come up again

I know it’s time to peel them off,

Even if it means the gnaw marks on my fingers

Become increasingly pink

Until glittering red.


My mom tells me to let them grow.

She’s bought me nail hardeners; polishes that taste bad;

Oils that are supposed to heal my demolished cuticles.


I apply the colors of the polish,

My nails now blending in with my fingers:

A messy fusion of vile shades of red.


My mom seems impressed, satisfied even,

By the paint masking the blood behind it.

The facade inflates my disgust.


I decide, then, to peel back the paint with my teeth

And admire my work of art

With a smile.


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