Genetics, via habit, go into greater detail.

Mine are uneven and gnawed, on-again-off-again

healing themselves from the war wounds,

the co-pillaging and the plundering of my nerves,

my incisors. They are cratered, like a bird’s-eye

of the Catskills or Adirondacks. Occasionally, they bleed.

I once knew a girl who could not stand the thought

of even one, and you consider yours a curse?

She’d inspect my flaking cuticles and recoil,

hex the chewed-up nails and hide her own

in a dirty well of a fist, as if to say,

“Those are freakish and disgusting.”

So yours are squat, the heavenly practical joke.

The nails are wide like sailboats and with

tips like dying tulip bulbs. They are pinker. You must

bring them out when I’m not there, I know. Secretly,

you suckle them. Maybe. I see you sometimes

holding them close, rubbing their whorls

and not mine. Tell me: how can I compete?

I could buy you mittens, or a fancy floral nailfile,

a manicure, perhaps. But even then I lose. All night long

I kept using them as an excuse to touch your hands.