It lost its form in the slush of blood
after they pulled the nail off,
the surprising peak of bone
and strange yellow gunge
too alien to believe my own.
Four bright blue stiches—
all it took to hold the skin together
from where they slit in and tried
to reassemble the crushed tip
of my digit, save its length.
Splint off, I could inspect new flesh
already puffing up from the bed.
Freed from its keratin shell,
it was foreign and exposed,
a snail who shed its home.
I prayed to the half-moon face
of my lunula still squinting up at me
from where the nail used to be:
Grant me your growth and strength,
a familiar touch of shelter.
— Denise Dubick