Summer Manicure

Jul 9, 2013

Except for a 3000-word essay I wrote as a chapter for a book, my writing productivity in the past few months has been nil. There have been no new blog posts in five weeks, no new pages in the book that is due at the publisher in six months.

The picture below summarizes my summer. I’ve been eating fresh tomatoes, watering the basil to eat with the tomatoes, cutting flowers from my neighbors yard, drinking coffee on the porch, reading young adult novels, and putting nail polish on my fingers and toes. People tell me “It’s summer; it’s okay; relax!” I’m not so sure.

The last activity on the list is completely out of character. I’m a low-makeup kind of chick. Nail-polishing is way out of my artistic skill set. Two things have prompted my confrontation with colorful lacquers. 1) This summer I’ve noticed a wild array of colors peeking out on sandaled feet: purples, chartreuse, lemoncello, turquoise, and puce. I also notice I’m the only person in town with bare nails. I feel so naked, almost like I’m braless. I want to cover my toes in the same way I would fling my arms across my bare chest. 2) I have a new friend who works for a nail polish company called Butter London. She is working on my conversion to manicures and colored nails. Bright reds and pinks are not my style, but “Knackered” might just plant me at the altar of these little bottles. It’s translucent. My nails look purple from one angle, green from another. And they sparkle. Maybe there’s some sort of spiritual lesson in these changing colors, in the way I view things from a different vantage point, but I’m too busy eating tomatoes and cutting flowers to process it right now. I recall a poem I wrote a decade ago.

The polish goes everywhere
Slides down my pinky,
Spreads like measles,
Drops in a blob
On the nearest drycleanable surface.

Like my prayer life:
Words run together
In a bright sticky mess:
Ugly, pure,
Grateful, regretful
Syllables smudge, collide,
Drop in a blob
On the nearest excuse for a dog.

Before they’re even dry,
I’m waving new ones in the air
Better start over:
The brush splays bristles
In unladylike manner
Flings an embarrassment
Of bright spots,
Incites a barrage of red hot expletives.

Yet another botched makeover.

Sybil MacBeth © 2003

Manicure resized



  1. Those nails you have brilliantly lacquered
    In a shade with the trade name of Knackered:
    When you dance, do they glow
    In a bright indigo,
    Then a lime, like my uncle’s old Packard?

    What I love best about you, Sybil: you’re irrepressible!


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