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Love and Nail Polish, One Throne Magazine

"Vain Harpy" by Sandara.
© Please do not reproduce without artist's permission.

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.


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