Orange on the Nail

Natalie Shapero
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Whatever is said to mate for life, doesn’t. Science once was awful
at telling birds apart, took any speckled hen in the nest
for the same one every time. Now we know more.
See the shop
where the model girls are ugly. This only happens at one store,

and every time I’m there they offer me work. I say I work already,
and they say where, as though I’ll soon be stolen. The fitting attendant
is angry in sandals, kicking her toes.
 Look at this color, it’s wrong.
It’s peach in the bottle, she says. Peach in the bottle, orange on the nail.

Is this where we’ve gotten to? Have I hurt you? Have I made
accusations from the other side of a stall,
put you in mind of stone
fruit grown in glass? Of seed fruit and a spike? And what about the cigarette
on the subway stairs, still going? Everyone avoids it, wishing not

to stamp it, cheering the burn as I have cheered a family animal no one
could put down. Such is our religion. We raise kids in it and cry when they sleep
with heretics. Striding neighbors
beg us to stay together. Once
I returned to the college I’d left and found that I knew no one.

I slept on the floor of a lab for making ears. The guard
woke me: HOW DID YOU GET IN?
I said I was a runner,
they needed a runner. I trained all summer. My event was hurdles.

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