kelley white2
Poem in which I cut my hair after seven years
by Kelley White

as if that were it, the weight tying me to bricks,
the scarred ropes of my tears spun to wax, the breath
of my frozen rime evil gracing my face; as if a razor
could scrape me clean: as if I might bundle the cuttings
as harvest to lay before the hungry: as if I might keep
the braids as sustenance for cancerous masses; as if
I might weave a doormat for your dirty feet, as if I might
sweep clean the dust of my own shed skin, peel a scalp
in one smooth spiral infinite in tension and grace; as if I
might bind another soul with its fibers stained red;
as if I might bind you; as if I might tie myself to a sheaf
that would dry golden; as if I might pluck those strings
into a harpsong of feathered kindness; as if I could spin;
as if I could darn your bruised memory on the egg
of my bared skull

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Philadelphia, 1987, with daughter Jenny and son Jamie.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve worn braids in some of the happiest moments of my life, this about 25 years ago (we fed the orphaned baby robin cat food dipped in egg until it successfully fledged.) And then there are times when for efficiency’s sake my hair has been closely cropped. It’s taken seven years again now (since starting my new job in New Hampshire) to get back the braids. This poem appeared initially in English Journal and was included in an on-line chapbook, It’s dinner, and you’re in love with Genghis Khan.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural
 New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals, including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.