Nail Harmony

Chrissy Martin

Dolly Parton wrote “9 to 5” to the acrylic zip zip of her nails,
like a washboard, a typewriter, a worn-out woman’s anthem.

Wikipedia: Dolly Parton - lead vocals, nails. My friends and I
talk how we’d fight off men. It’s a game but not. They say,
keys, pepper spray, knees, but I’ve always been partial to nails. 

When my mother left for the man with a cruel son, I kept 
my nails sharp for when he would draw back, swing. I left

moons of nail punctures on both his wrists, diamonds
reddened across his back as I clawed. When the police came 
I said protection, smaller. I said fists. I didn’t say help. 

What would they take away when I was the weapon. 
Dolly loves her men earthy, rail thin. She loves her husband:

The way he lets me be free. And lets me be me. He don’t try to choke me 
and demand anything from me. The cruel son passed away 
the cruelest way: farm equipment tip, teen body underneath, 

his grandmother’s house, her finding him. I am still afraid
to wear my nails short. Dolly and Patti LaBelle play their nails 

together on daytime TV, sing, Mama's little baby loves shortnin', shortnin, 
Mama's little baby loves shortnin' bread. Patti takes the high notes, 
voice and nails. Dolly’s nails are thicker, maybe she waited 

longer for a fresh set so her acrylics skewed alto. When my nails
break to the quick, wear tissue thin: press-ons. When the press-ons 

split like the snake of a tongue: even better. When I go home 
there are so many truck-back window memorials to the cruel son.
How do we mourn those who made us sharpen ourselves into weapons.