When she hits a deeply embedded
shard of ingrown toenail on the left
side of my right big toe, Carmela
the nail technician turns to Celine,
who is working on my sister-in-law’s
pedicure next to us. A flurry
of consultation ensues— after which
Carmela turns to me and says, Tell me
if it hurts, okay? With the tip
of her nipper, she nabs the offending
piece of growth and starts to tug.
It’s almost as if this hurts her
as much as me, so I tell her I have
a high pain threshold. Three more tugs,
and she lays the small hard nub
triumphantly on the towel: barely
a trace of blood. You okay? I’m okay.
I’m glad it’s out; even a small thing
like that can feel almost omnipresent:
pressure against the toe from closed
shoes pulsing bulletins to the brain
throughout the day. I apologize—
I’m ashamed she has to work on my ugly,
neglected feet, clearly in need of some
mojo. I envy their beautifully lacquered
nails— Celine sports a different color
on each finger, a different design. Carmela’s
are buffed to sleek points, and she has a contrast
color on the fourth fingernail of each hand.
They tell my sister-in-law they live near Montrose
and she says Oh! that’s where we lived
when we first got here. Two women walk in
from the street. The manager is quick
to hustle. Sister, he says, I have some new
mineral foundation all the Filipina ladies
are c-r-a-z-y about. You’ve got to try it!
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.