Long Toe Nails

My toe nails are longer than they should be. From a societal perspective. From a personal perspective they’re not too bad. There they are at the end of my body, doing their thing, accumulating sock fluff, incrementally lengthening, building a bridge to the toe cap beyond the River Styx. It’s a myth that the toenails continue growing after death; the skin dehydrates and shrinks away from the nail, giving the ready illusion of growth, but in actuality the nail, like the corpse, is as dead as a pork scratching, as dead as, well, a door nail. And yet there is something about toenails that is definitely “other”. A curious adornment to the body, like an architrave or a skirting board in an otherwise functional room. And, like the Outer Hebrides, or the Northern Shetland islands, they’re far enough away to be foreign without being a foreigner, biding their time on the outer limits of the archipelago of British disinterestedness that is my body. And hell its such a voyage to get down there and spruce them up. I mean we’re talking the whole length of my torso and then some. There’s no finesse in toenail cutting, all gutso and noise and bravura, all crimping and cracking. Far better to let them grow and watch from a distance, like a judge gazes down at the gallery, like a Mafia king surveys his underlings, like an Indian chief sizes up the unknowing tribe in the valley. Their time will come. We all have to be cut short one day. But for now let them eak out their long summers in the dark cave of my shoe. Scratching at the toe cap like the entombed.

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