Toenail Paring

This entry is part 8 of 34 in the series Small World


“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.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


    1. That would be too easy. :) My project with these miniatures is to try to avoid “seeing the world in a grain of sand,” to celebrate pieces as pieces since that’s all we ever really know of the world. (I might end up changing the series title from “small world” to something else in order to avoid confusion; I’m not sure yet.)


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