Poem of the Week, by Micah Daniels

My new poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

IMG_4415Here in the Time of Covid, my younger daughter and I have figured out how to maintain her complicated haircut. She does the back and sides with her electric clippers, and then I take over with my scissors, layering the sweep of black hair we refer to as “the plume” and lock by lock trimming and blending the rest.

When her sister of the wild sproingy curls was little, she demanded a different hairdo every day of her non-hairdo-doing mother. Braids, tiny pigtails all over her head, butterfly clips arranged here and there. 

My mother, while visiting a year ago, asked me to streak a little pink into her hair. Not too much! Just a tiny bit! Very, very, very subtle! This was a fraught and delicate operation, performed at my kitchen sink. 

Long ago, when my best friend and I lived blocks apart in Boston, she used to come by my one-room apartment before her waitress shift at Rebecca’s so I could French-braid her hair. Later that same night she would return, empty the pockets of her green apron, and we would drink wine and count up her tips together. A few years later, on the morning of her wedding, it was I who did her hair, smoothing it back and securing it with a white Goody ponytail holder.

All of which is why I so love this poem. 


The Secret of Youth, by Micah Daniels

Last night I asked my mother to cornrow my hair
A skill I had been practicing since last summer
But always ended with a tumbleweed excuse of a braid

My black has always resided in braids
In tango fingers that work through tangles
Translating geometry from hands to head

For years my hair was cultivated into valleys and hills
That refused to be ironed out with a brush held in my hand
I have depended on my mother to make them plains

I am 18 and still sit between my mother’s knees
I still welcome the cracks of her knuckles in my ears
They whisper to me and tell me the secret of youth

I want to be 30 sitting between my mother’s knees
Her fingers keeping us both young while organizing my hair
I never want to flatten the hills by myself
I want the brush in her hand forever


For more information about Micah Daniels, please click here.

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