Roughly every three months, I will be featuring a poet in my local circle whose poem has spoken to me through the Holy Spirit. Leah Pauls’ poem, “The Tale of the Runaway Toenail” has done this for me. I believe it needs to be shared, and so I have been granted permission to share it with you here. The words for this poem can be found both here and at her website.
Leah has been kind to read this poem which will be featured in the next King’s Poetry Podcast.
The Tale of a Runaway Toenail
In a land far away, by the edge of the sea
A man of great strength stubbed his toe on a tree.
It was a common event for the men of this land
But this time was different, or so says the sand.
Yes billions of witnesses relayed to me
An account of the man and his catastrophe.
He was a muscular man, as I mentioned before,
His pectorals, they bulged through the shirt that he wore.
And poor man, he could never find britches his size,
For he had the most marvelous, mountainous thighs.
This body seemed perfect in its stock and store,
But something was wrong with the man on the shore.
As he walked on the beach he could feel the sand ooze
Through his toes, which for some reason, carried no shoes.
Curiosity spurred the sand grains to unveil
An interesting fact of this, thought, “perfect” male.
Yes the feet to the sand sang in rhythm and blues
Of a missing toenail and the life he did choose.
Meanwhile, not far from the talk taking place
Between sand grains and callouses on the foot-face
A lonesome toenail, who’d once had a home
Now stood in self-pity, afraid and alone.
He had no idea of what would take place
On the body whose size made him feel a disgrace.
The toenail wailed “I’m so lonely today!
From my place on the body I’ve stolen away
But my actions are justified, don’t think they’re not
For kings have instructed and rich men have taught
That the smaller one is in life’s massive array
The less one can do, and the less one should say.
And since I’m just a wrap on a blistered big toe,
I think that I’m worthless, so sulking I go.”
Now the leaves of the grapevine had heard the nail mourn,
So they said to themselves, “from a toe there is torn
A quite an ignorant creature, with head hanging low
His beliefs must be changed, he can’t be thinking so!”
While the leaves of the vine discussed what they should do
To aid the poor toenail in getting a clue,
The affair of the strongman’s encounter with fate
Had transpired, and sand gives an in-depth update.
As the toes to the sand wailed “oh we’re so blue!”
They neglected to spy an enormous bamboo.
“CRUNCH!” impact echoed its scream o’er the waves,
As the ruthless bamboo stabbed the toe with its staves
The tree knew, for he’d heard the man’s largest toe wail
That there is no protection where there is no nail.
So the once perfect form of the brawny man, brave
Now writhed in affliction and wished for his grave.
“My LORD!” cried the toe, as his mind could still muse,
We’d not be in this state had we just worn our shoes!
Which brings me to think, and to sit and to ponder…
We’d not be in this state had my nail not gone yonder!
Now we risk amputation instead of mere bruise,
If infection sets in, our whole leg we could lose!”
A few inches away on an old, rotten stump,
Some infectious bacteria sat in a clump.
“Just look toward that tree of bamboo standing there,
A divine piece of flesh sits for us all to share!
Hooray!” cried the germs, “let’s abandon this dump!”
And they whooped a loud war cry, and off they did jump.
As infection raced on to the blood-feast divine,
Sand gave news to a breeze, and the breeze to a vine.
When the vine had caught wind of the news of the man
It related right back, “yes we’ll do what we can
To teach this toenail his purposed design
And get him to ward off infection in time!”
Now, the fruit of the vine racked their brains to contrive
An effective solution for how to revive
The poor toenail’s ego, and get him to go
Save the strongman’s great life, by way of his toe.
They remembered just then, the most wise branch alive
And how he had read Romans 12: 4 and 5.
The grapes asked, my friend, have you heard the good word?
The nail shook his head, for he hadn’t yet heard.
“Well, it says that the body has numerous members,
And each quite unique in the job that it renders.
But comparing your size made you feel quite absurd,
And you saw not your mission to shield and to gird.
“Now you, my good friend, have neglected your calling,
And, thus, your good host has more followers falling.
But be of good faith, and back to your toe run!
You’ve no time to lose, there’s a race to be won!”
So off ran the toenail, he was no longer stalling
For he had to prevent the infection from mauling.
The toenail knew he was in for a fight,
And the wind carried news of this terrible plight.
All nature now planned for this coming disaster
As infection ran fast and toenail ran faster.
At last the prospective goal came into sight
And the toenail sprinted with all of his might.
Into the stretch the fore raced in dead heat!
And the toenail knew that the germs he must beat.
A few inches from end a short prayer to God
Was thrown out by the toenail, and down a foot trod.
All the poisons that thought that their power could defeat
Were now smashed to a pulp underneath the LORD’s feet.
Then God healed the toe that the bamboo had sliced
And told all the message of how we are spliced.
From a toenail to bicep, we’re all made unique;
To work for the good of the total physique.
So, we being many are one body in Christ;
Members one of another, most preciously priced.
Leah Pauls (formerly Leah Eddens) ©1990