"Vain Harpy" by Sandara.
© Please do not reproduce without artist's permission.
LOVE AND NAIL POLISH
by Ruth Daniell
Her therapist told her she needed a reason
to get out of bed in the morning and my friend
suggested, Nail polish. Now she wakes up
and remembers each day she can change
the colour of her fingernails and it paints
away some of the terror of the car accident
that damaged the way her brain takes in
shadow, gesture. The way it processes
failure, pulls it into her heart—the figurative
one that’s beating in pieces beyond her thin
eyebrows. The hair loss is from trauma.
Hardly noticeable, the doctors say.
Living with a brain injury is like living
with any other injury: it hurts
most when it’s invisible, it shifts memories
across her until one side of her is weighted,
or missing. I can’t remember what I did
when she told me this, told me about nail polish.
I probably said something asinine about love and
suggested we pop into a café for hot chocolate.
I was visiting town, we were walking in rain
and I was hungry. As usual. My stomach gets me
out of bed each morning, but I want to give her
reasons. I want to give her
rainbows: the Color Club Pride
Collection (six neon brights), a separate bottle
of summer Watermelon for her January birthday.
Now they make a suede-finish top coat: Matte About You.
I know sometimes it’s dishonest
to put a shiny gloss on everything, sometimes colours
are flat and someone’s still crazy for you.
Ruth Daniell lives in Vancouver, where she teaches at the Bolton Academy of Spoken Arts and runs Swoon, a literary reading series on love and desire. Some of her recent writing appears in Contemporary Verse 2 and Room, and on CBC as the winner of the 2014 Shakespeare Selfie Challenge.