Katie Manning


Your feet are far from beautiful.
The burnt sienna
skin is fine, but the cuticles
and thick nails atop
your toes look bestial, curled by years
of wearing tight, secondfoot shoes—but stop.

You never like to talk about your past.
Let’s sit together now
with our feet up on the table, talking fast
to forget the shingled legs, the tumored liver,
the fact that your pride
no longer stops your lips’ quiver.

I’ll hold your toes and trim your talons again tonight,
silver clippers to yellowed nails.
Pale hands on red feet in fading light
look ghostly, but you will go first.

I’m still sitting on this brown couch
after five years. I keep your clippers in my purse.