Two Poems by Eileen Pettycrew

I Couldn’t Do What the Pedicure Lady Does

All day bending toward disagreeable
outcroppings, operating
with a surgeon’s precision—
especially not the way she does it,
always trying to catch my eye,
while I, already squirming
from the intimacy of the procedure,
try to stay inside
the separate station of my book.

I think of feet, how they tether me
to this world, how one day
they’ll be reduced to nothing,
and she will no longer take them,
naked as mole rats,
into her hands, rubbing the heels
and between the toes
with her lotioned fingers.

Now as I wait for the polish to dry,
she sweeps nail clippings
and clumps of skin into a dustpan.
Someday everything in this salon
will be gone—fake poinsettia wreath
on the door, the oversized calendar
printed with Bui’s Natural Tofu.
Box fan in the corner ruffling
a strand of my hair.

I think seven years into the future,
when my skin will have renewed itself.
I like to think I’ll reinvent myself
with whatever warmth
she carries in her hands
as she kneads my calves,
her fists pounding look up, look up.


First Week in April

Already the azaleas
are in bloom, the rhodies
busting out too.
Everything’s moved
up a month, as if time
has rolled up the rug
and left town. What will
happen to the Mother’s Day
rhododendron show?
Maybe folks will learn to love
the delicate skeletons
left behind.
          Last night
at the square dance, I loved
others’ attire—window-pane
fishnets, a hot-pink shirt.
I slid into do-si-dos,
swing your partner.
I think of my father’s
artificial hips, how he quit
dancing for fear
of falling. He and my mother
out on the floor,
suede soles gliding
across the wood as if
they could go on forever.
          I think I know
of loss, but I don’t.
Or it’s been here so long
it seems normal,
like browned-out grass.
The days
mean something,
don’t they?
Rising as they do
when the sun returns
after a cloudburst.
Fleeting as steam.


Eileen Pettycrew’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New Ohio Review, CALYX Journal, Cave Wall, SWWIM Every Day, and elsewhere. In 2022 she was one of two runners-up for the Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry and a finalist for the New Letters Award for Poetry. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Eileen lives in Portland, Oregon.

Leave a Reply