“But a toenail paring isn’t a body.” —Robert Hughes
A toenail paring isn’t a body. Nor is it a boat or a barrel stave or a C-section of—Lord help us—the crescent moon. It isn’t a smile or a parabola, a cradle or a wing. It seems as if should have age rings, like a tree stump or an artist’s conk, but no: it is as featureless as an eggshell, & its curl is the curl of a fetus. I am still always a bit surprised that I have managed to grow such an excrescence, & reluctant to part with it. Where to dispose of it—trash? Compost? Toilet? Like a shed antler, it doesn’t quite belong anywhere. I picture a lonely atoll at the edge of the North Pacific Gyre where all the world’s toenail parings eventually end up—long curved driftrows at the high-tide line.
Thanks to Marly Youmans for the Hughes quote.