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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Poem of the Week, by T.S. Eliot

Photos 223Sometimes all I want is a poem that’s rhythm and rhyme, words placed and spaced so they turn into a song inside my head. Langston Hughes does that. So does Dylan Thomas. And so does Mr. Eliot, below. I memorized this poem so that it will always be with me. Poem, you are a voice shaken from the yew-tree, and here I am, replying.

Excerpt from Ash-Wednesday, by T.S. Eliot

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth
This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

For more information on T.S. Eliot, please click here.
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