COMBING

How the chemicals that might heal you singe the hair inside.

How at the wig store you were angry with the clerks, because
they had no wig that was your hair.

How when our generation came of age, hair was our exuberant no, and Hair was our musical, and everyone had so much.

How we used hair unthinkingly for our own purposes.

How young girls in shining hair spend hours on a nuance of curl,
and that is youth: hours for a nuance.

How, falling gold into fairy tales, hair reveals the prince
or princess, reflects the kingdom to come.

How heads are shaved as punishment.

How Rapunzel made hair a staircase and a door.

How the woman in the story sold her hair to buy her husband a gift
and then he bought her combs.

How you called yourself vain, but I say the strands of our hair
write our names.

I will bring you a broad-brimmed hat wreathed with fruits —
cherries, frosted purple grapes, peaches so small they never were, and
blossoms — daisies, roses, rue. No one would dream of bare land beneath
such abundance. You would live in its shade, private and imperturbable.

You would live.