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WOULD YOU PAINT MY TOENAILS RED, by Dianalee Velie.
Would you paint my toenails red as we lay
on a quilted blue blanket listening to Brazilian jazz,
the August sky warming my thoughts
with ancient familiar breezes, meandering
like the Hudson River before us, and I told you
today was the day in 1533 when Francisco Pizarro
ordered Atahualpa, Peru's last Incan King,
murdered and on the highest peak in Macchu Pichu
twenty years ago, I painted my toenails blood-red,
weeping the precognizant grief of a young widow,
not the innocent baby-pink I painted them in 1957,
on this day, when Strom Thurmond ended a filibuster
against civil rights with non-stop talking,
while everyone's toenails yellowed with age?
Would you love me tomorrow if I told you
this moment is memorized and chop suey
was invented in New York, not China,
and Washington's Irving's cottage, Sunnyside,
which we have just toured on this day, sings
of the romance I crave, forests and rivers
beckoning me in my dreams, the headless horseman
pursuing me even in the comfort of your arms,
imprinting my mind with trivia, trinkets and treasures,
memories of Candlestick Park, San Francisco,
1966, when the Beatles finished their American Tour
but I twirled like a dervish, following the Grateful Dead,
my toenails painted passionate purple.
Unaware of any of these events, my father paraded
down the Champs Elysees in Paris, on this day,
August 29, 1944, celebrating the liberation of Paris,
marching toward his own death in thirty years,
while dreaming of my yet to be formed tender toenails.
If I emptied out my thoughts of today, to you,
poured them into a porcelain cup for you to sip,
would it shatter from my flame? Would you lick
the longing from my lips, tenderly picking up
the broken pieces, gently gluing the fragments
together,until a whole vessel re-emerged, complicated
by an intricate pattern of bonded strength.
Would you understand if I tucked today away
to picture in a poem and then, to celebrate,
would you paint my toenails red?
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