Perfect Affliction


I walked out on the roof to clip my fingernails.

It was a quiet night. The stars shone.

Soon the clippings made a small but noticeable pile.

I went back in, showered, went to bed.


By morning the pile was larger.

The next day the roof began to sag.

I took a snow shovel to the roof

and pitched them, hand over hand,


into the dooryard below. This became a daily task.

The grass, the lilacs in the dooryard died,

suffocated for light. The first-floor windows

filled like apothecary bottles.


There was nothing shocking or disturbing about this.

It was what we'd been wanting all along.


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