Friday, January 21, 2011


for several months now
you’ve given me the guilts
you’re horribly skillful at it
when you see i haven’t brought my own shopping bag
you let out steam and reach for the paper or plastic
you tilt your chin
and i feel terrible
for yet again ruining the world you will inherit
because you are young enough to be my child
but old enough to give me shit
there are days that i think that i don’t  remember
just to piss you off a little
and there are days i avoid the line that leads to you
and go instead to the woman who understands
i’m too preoccupied with what’s becoming of me
to put a shopping sack in the car

and then
yesterday i get in line
and you are no where in sight
i put my basket on the little conveyor
six tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, a can of coffee
and i see you
first your brow, then your eye, one shining brown eye
tilted up toward me from behind the plastic bags
you are waiting for me to see you
to see what you’ve gone and done . . .
well i see it, and its not the first time i’ve seen a mohawk
on a girl
and its so new to you that you’re wearing it nervously
you know, you need to know that
because i used to be afraid of your query
your valiant search in my basket for the sack i didn’t bring
and now i see your looking for something else entirely

i shaved my head almost that close when i was 21
but i didn’t leave the mohawk, it was all gone
and it felt good to have my brain that close to the surface
the night after i did it
the Indian graduate student who i frequently waited on in the library
asked me if someone i was close to had died?
i told him no, why do you ask?
where i come from, girls shave their heads when they are in mourning
i smiled and stamped the due dates carefully in each one of his books
and supposed that yes, i was in some sort of mourning

my father raged when he saw my close shaven head
sputtered something about my denying my Femininity
whatever it meant to him meant something different to me
he refused to take me out for dinner
he didn’t want to be seen with me

i asked you to put my groceries in plastic
and you obliged with a search of my face
i love your haircut i told you
and the tomatoes descended into the bag
i took the sack from you
and walked through the automatic doors
into the cold
my own hair caught the night air
ancient i am now, i thought, completely ancient . . .

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