Rivers of Hair


So much hair in this house. A river of shining black. A cascade of curly near-black. Dark brown pigtails. Shorn light brown. Black dredlock dog.  And the eyes framed by the hair: near-black, hazel, bright blue, gray-blue, brown. Hair stroked with a brush in the early morning. Hair tied up with clips and binders. Get your hair out of this sink. Where’s my hairbrush? Who took my hairbinder? Hair, hair everywhere.

The mother of the house remembers her baldheaded babies, and how she wondered what their hair would be like. How she loved to smell their baby heads. How she still leans over them to catch a whiff of their hair: shampoo and conditioner and a scent that is each their own.

First Haircut

She wants to grow it long, and
she wants to go to the barber.
She wants curls floating down her back, and
she wants the barber’s hands on her
skull, tilting her head now this way, now that.
She wants it both ways.
She wants her locks for herself and
she wants to be
shorn, dark petals drifting down.

It’s not possible to do both, I tell her.

She looks into the mirror, picturing herself as
she might look if
she keeps it, imagining what
she might lose if
she doesn’t.
In the end, she can’t resist her own longing.
The hands of the other win out.
Studying herself in the mirror she sees someone new,
a familiar stranger.
The girl she was, gone.

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