Lynn Lifshin
More Hair

In college I wore
it up, was accused of
someone taking my
test for me
relatives were always
smoothing it down, putting
pins in it, as if  it
was some strange night
beast, animal, dark
weeds to cut back
When I was six in the
cottage I combed it
straight in the wet
sun but it didn’t
stay, it was like
fat, like my fat
thighs that looked
thin in the late
afternoon shadows
they had their fat
way in the mirror
in the damp room
though I wanted to be
skinny with long
straight hair,
dieted until
I passed out, put
Curl Free on it and
just got it orange,
as plastic as a broom.
In those years, people
used to laugh, sneer
hippie. I tucked it up
into itself for in-laws,
bosses, English
examining committees
and superintendents,
knotted it tight
as a hair ball
inside a cat, a
pearl waiting,
nests for some
thing inside. I
hated not being able
to let it down, hated
twisting it, twisting
myself into what was
neat, small expected
I was sorry I wasn’t
Indian, wished that
it would grow long
enough to hold out
buildings, as if I
could climb out into
my new self that way