Weighted Hair

Zorina Exie Frey | Poetry

I take my hair down / it doesn’t fall / It’s stubborn like that / insisting to praise the heavens / Every coil spiraled every which way / but down / With enough heat / I pressure it into submission / It used to be / witchcraft of chemicals and creams / hocus-pocusing one week of sheen / before withering away.

It used to be twisties and braids secured with plastics clips / elastics with candied balls at each end / A ritual demanding a sacrifice of tears / Tender-headed girl / Coils tough like sheep’s wool / Momma tugged and pulled / Cupping dead hair from the comb / some of it torn / A scalping of sorts / Blue Magic / Crown Royal / Sulfer 8 / a balm / for coils to glisten / Listen to small sniffles / Pretty sho nuff hurts / Ponytails pulled too tight / edges straight like whites.

Momma did my hair during 60 Minutes with Dan Rather / my father’s favorite show / He’d have no whimpering during this time / There wasn’t such a thing as rewind then / so I swallowed my pain with invisible tears / in order to be pretty / A mental flexing taught early / when it came time to sit / in front of the stove with the metal hot comb’s / smelted sinister teeth  / waiting to straighten me up / refine my posture / My attitude / My kitchen / Behind the ears / I stop breathing /   controlling my body from the movement of heaving / One small breath can clumsily kiss the comb’s crimson teeth.

It used to be braids with pretty beads / clacking / defeating gravity / I shake my head no / making music with my beaten fro / brushing momma’s knees / She’s not finished yet / My tailbone stabs the pillow / balancing on carpet with no padding / I’m antsy / One more section left / It’s maddening / No cartoons on TV / I wish I brought my Barbie doll / Momma twists my head just so / not allowing the comfort / of imagination / Not until she’s done / until all my beads click-clack

like the beaded drapes separating the living room from the hallway bedrooms / My beads click and clack like morse code / Click-clack like antiquated bells / Click and clack / alerting earth / we made it from the click and clack of rudimentary chains and / neck holds made from the click and clack of iron heart’s click-clacking horsewhips / Click-clack we made it / whipping our hair back and forth / like the cat-o-nine tails scraping down our ancestors’ back / the beads clack down my back / rolling over my shoulders / making people stop and stare / wanting to touch my hair / How you do that there / A ritual taught to temper wild coils springing from wild / dark soil / Wild as in free to click-clack like gazelles hooves / To click-clack like elephant tusks and buffalo horns / strutting like giraffe legs / lion’s majesty / My beads click-clack back like that.