Today, however, I’d like to challenge you to write a self-portrait poem in which you make a specific action a metaphor for your life – one that typically isn’t done all that often, or only in specific circumstances. For example, bowling, or shopping for socks, or shoveling snow, or teaching a child to tie its shoes.
Clearing the hang nail 1 April 20 0846
Growing slowly, the hard, yellowed, cracked big toenail pushes through the soft underbelly of pink unsuspecting skin.
On the weekends, after the work for sustenance is done, the children are staring with rapt attention to the illustrated morality plays. They never notice the amateurish surgery I apply to my foot.
The cold, heartless, unfeeling shining blade cracks apart the evolutionary ridiculous and unnecessary claw that emerges at a glacial pace from my cuticles. Using my fingernails, I dig and slowly peel back the toe nail embedded in my flesh. Uncovering the lint and dirt that lay in wait to be discarded from their home.
The blood pools quickly, the puss oozes and mixes with the life force that powers my existence. Relief and the end of intense pain cause me to sigh deeply, feeling ecstatic joy, as if I’ve been satisfied by a lover.
There is a break in the Saturday morning morality play, and my children ask for more. They gaze at my now bloodied toe, concern washes over their faces, they want to help. They have learned that Papa swoops in without asking and makes pain go away with kisses. They attempt to recreate that example to win favor and relieve pain. I wave them aside, limp to the television, choose another morality play, limp back, collapse in my recliner and enjoy the dizziness of sudden blood loss.
Things left to fester, only fester until the time comes when they must be painfully removed. The pain is never worth the lesson when the lesson remains unlearned.