Self-Portrait with Root Rescue™
by Erika Dreifus

It’s expensive, to be a woman
who colors her hair.
It costs money, and time.
(And did I mention that it costs time, and money?)
I indulge in salon visits and try to space them out
as distantly as possible.
Which is why, inevitably,
I return to the drugstore
to pluck a box that promises “root rescue” from its shelf.
Back home, I stand before my bathroom mirror,
applying the freshly mixed chemicals
just as the directions instruct:
along the part, the temples, and the hairline.
Forty-plus years on the planet.
Crows’ feet are etched around my eyes.
Age spots overtake the youthful freckles.
And, the toothpaste’s slogans aside,
half a lifetime of coffee and wine has dulled my teeth.
But along the part, the temples, and the hairline,
I’ve rescued those roots
for just a little longer.

IMAGE: Root Rescue by L’Oréal Paris.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan of writing prompts. I wrote the first draft of this poem last April, during National Poetry Month, when prompts seemed to be especially plentiful. This poem emerged in response to a prompt from West Trestle Review: “Write a poem titled ‘Self-Portrait with ____.’ Fill in the blank.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erika Dreifus lives in New York, where she writes poetry and prose and serves as Media Editor for Fig Tree Books. Since 2004, she has published the popular “Practicing Writer” newsletter for poets, fictionists, and writers of creative nonfiction. Visit her online at and follow her on Twitter @ErikaDreifus, where she tweets on “matters bookish and/or Jewish.”