Considering My Hair
by Mary McCarthy

Like everyone else I wanted
what I did not have,
to be someone
I dreamed I could become.
Like red-haired Brenda Starr
the glamorous comic strip reporter
with her beautiful clothes,
her adventures, and her
mostly absent rakish lover.
She had that great red hair
and stars in her eyes
while I was dull and stodgy,
brown and brown.

Later, when my blond and blue eyed friends
would iron their long hair straight
I longed for Revolution,
to be beautiful, dangerous and brave
like Angela Davis
wearing the righteous halo
of her natural hair
in that magnificent, defiant Afro.

I seemed to want only
impossible things,
doomed to fall short
in ways more or less
like the perm that left me
more the Bride of Frankenstein
than Angela’s sister,
warrior Queen.

But I can’t help imagining
those young contrary dreams
taught me how to reach,
and reach, inspired,
stubborn and convinced
we can escape this dark forever,
and rise to where our shining hopes
still wait.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Although I never fussed much about my hair, and was even notoriously apt to forget to comb it, I remember these times I wished so much for things I could not have — like Angela’s signature Afro — which led to the unfortunate experiment recorded in this photo.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mary McCarthy is a poet who spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had work published in many print and online journals, including Earth’s Daughters, Third Wednesday, the Evening Street Review, the Camel Saloon, and Gnarled Oak. She devotes all the time she can to writing, reading, and drawing, finding new discoveries and wonders at every turn.