The Ceremony of Hair
Today as I wash my hair I think of you,
of my Mother, of my Aunts, of my Grandmothers.
I remember lying across the red countertop,
my head at the edge of the sink,
the rolled towel beneath my neck;
I remember their hands and fingers
wrapping my hair and head with lather and
the rinse, and rinse, and rinse from the well.
I remember the hand pump at the sink
in the house down the holler,
the chill and anticipation of that water.
And I knew other sinks and tubs andthe pleasure and play of that intimate time,
my head raised in expectation and joy
and always the water,
flowing and flowing and flowing.
Afterward the long strokes of comb and
brush, the rise and fall of that cadence
as my hair gave into the rhythm
and my body joined in the rocking.
Now I think of my children.Recall the texture of their hair
in my hands, the smallness of
a newborn head, their growth beneath
my hand over the years;
I remember length and thickness and the
twirling into spirals and spikes and other shapes,
the laughter of that time, the soapsud tears,
the tangles, the pins, the clips, the ribbons,
the rubber bands and the braids.
I know now their hands fall into
the hair of their children and I
find comfort and pleasure in that vision.
I think of all women now.Years and years of hair and hands,
wells and springs, rivers and streams
flowing down and through
the brilliant universe of hair.
There is duty everywhere
but nothing as elegant
as this simple ceremony.