Iowa Writes

LIDIJA DIMKOVSKA
Nail Clippers


Since I took their nail clippers abroad with me by mistake,
my family's nails have been growing out of control and unevenly,
their toes and fingers are lengthening rampantly
and breaking out through their shoes and handshakes with strangers,
and the horrified neighbors no longer try to eavesdrop.
I call them from far away wishing, between two surges of shouting,
to mollify them, singing them popular newly-written folk songs,
begging their forgiveness with the great thoughts of small nations.
So what are long nails compared with my thirst for the truth,
don't you see you're becoming immortal already?
But you take it so hard.
The nail clippers gape at me from the bedside table,
just as unhappy with the change of environment.
This is madness, I scream, I'll mail them to you,
but then they all shriek on this and that end of the line:
"No way! Customs confiscates nail clippers!"

Since I took their nail clippers abroad with me by mistake,
my family's nails have been growing out of control and unevenly,
their toes and fingers are lengthening rampantly
and breaking out through their shoes and handshakes with strangers,
and the horrified neighbors no longer try to eavesdrop.
I call them from far away wishing, between two surges of shouting,
to mollify them, singing them popular newly-written folk songs,
begging their forgiveness with the great thoughts of small nations.
So what are long nails compared with my thirst for the truth,
don't you see you're becoming immortal already?
But you take it so hard.
The nail clippers gape at me from the bedside table,
just as unhappy with the change of environment.
This is madness, I scream, I'll mail them to you,
but then they all shriek on this and that end of the line:
"No way! Customs confiscates nail clippers!"
When crossing the border, I hid them in my right sneaker.
My family threatened to cut their nails with the kitchen scissors.
No matter what, they weigh on my conscience like a plaster collar.
All night I dream of them with bleeding fingers and fainting.
The next morning I woke up with hemorrhoids,
and desperation plugged my spirit.
Claustrophobia is more powerful between a nail clipper's blades
than among people who have forgotten God.
The rainbow colored peacock on the clippers
murmured in a human voice:
"Life is the choice of nails, hair and skin,
but manicuring, that's the choice of divinity.
You've been biting your nails all your life,
but brought me here just to spite me. Get me back.
I don't care how, you godless no-nail, or get your family here
to trim their nails like human beings." And come they did,
and never even looked at me, but settled cozily on the bed
and trimmed and manicured their nails with the clippers,
throwing the parings on the floor and smiling contentedly at the peacock:
"A little while, and we'll be going home."


translated by
Ljubica Arsovska and Peggy Reid

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


LIDIJA DIMKOVSKA

Lidija Dimkovska participated in the 2005 International Writing Program residency at the University of Iowa. Born in 1971 in Skopje, she has lived in Bucharest, where she attained a doctoral degree in Romanian literature, and now lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia. "Nail Clippers" is from her first collection in English, Do Not Awaken Them With Hammers, which was published in 2006 by Ugly Duckling Presse.

This page was first displayed
on May 12, 2006

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