|The Bio of|
Rochelle Shammas is a cosmetologist with long red painted finger nails fashioned to emulate the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti, the wife of king Akhenaton. She has a station at Catskills Beauty & Nails, where she serves an average clientele of twelve per day. When not waxing her peripatetic cosmetology acumen, i.e., esthetics/skin care, nail technology, barbering, electrology and laser training, Shammas enjoys the works of James Merrill and Constantine P. Cavafy. In fact, during spells of demiurgic inspiration, she has been known to write excerpts from Merrill and Cavafy on the heads of her bald clients. They have been known to send flowers and chocolates. Of these gentlemen and in some cases gentlewomen suitors, a certain Professor Reginald Lipschitz had a particular attraction to Ms. Shammas and invited her to attend an exclusive poetry conference at Laye University in which he was chair. A deeply repressed and fragile wordsmith, she reluctantly accepted Professor Lipschitz’s invitation with a coquettish wink. On the flight to Old Maven, Ms. Shammas confessed that she dabbled in poetry. Gazing at her succulent lips and large breasts nicely packed in a summer dress, Professor Lipschitz asked Ms. Shammas if she would like to read at the conference. The following poem “Elegy for a Broken Nail” has been anthologized in Dust, Mold and Platitudes: A Poetry Conference at Laye University (Laye University Press, 2008).
Elegy for a Broken Nail
A broken, red cracked nail: a song from sleepy love,
me from my sex, myself, connected to
a head, a body—professor I wield cleavage,
wink, wafer-thin in a summer dress; slice,
survive into new life. Or do I?
And you, the other, bulge in a corner
glaring a threat or promise.
I long to write on your pole.
Ram me, I add a false nail,
testing the bond, I scratch red to a sore.
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