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red | by JKönig
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my hair was once straw straight

uncooked spelt spaghetti

sticking out of my still-expanding scalp

bangs got cut in the bathtub

bare feet flat on the cold smooth enamel, yellowed and dull

like old people's teeth

shiny black-handled steel scissoring across my nape

nicking ears, gently

shivers snaking down my arms

at the unexpected heat of my mother's hand

even now

i start when someone touches my hair

the brushing, the pulling, the braiding

skin on scalp


my hair and i have reached an understanding

it took years, but we got here

i used to hate it for singling me out

carrot top

when all i wanted was to slink away

sinking into stiller waters

where boats didn't rock

my hair was mousy back then, like my spirit

hiding from the brunettes and the blondes

but puberty beckoned like a bully on the jungle gym

thickening my hair with knotted curls of fear


an ex-stepmother tried to tame it with corn rows

i don't want to talk about it


then, michael capozzola

ninth grade social studies, period two

learning about the kalahari bushmen

and listening to regatta de blanc

he called me "red"

and i let him

my permission was a gift given freely

like the dogwood blossom i put in bernie kopitzke's trumpet case

he was the only one

who was allowed


as i got older, it grew on me

and i let my hair grow wild

wilder than i'd actually allow myself to be

kinky and unruly

a girl skipping rope

needing approval from no one

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Taken on September 15, 2007