(for september 16, 2022)
it starts so small—as obsessions do—middle of the night, there
in the cradle, reaching down to soothe fingers through new hair
so innocent you fear each strand will break at your touch, like
the fragility of both souls lays rooted out of reach. in the hair.
the first part of us we work to tame in children, headfuls
we fear will weave defiant licks into thoughts below their hair.
a thumb running along a part, the endowment, a benevolent
palm says so much to temper youth, to begin to train the hair.
by definition, it’s dead in the first place. death growing on us,
our first attempt to control what we cannot. the thickness hair
possesses—thick with hollowness. we adore it and mourn it when
it’s lost. to lose death. we learn early to pretend there’s life in hair.
and so it’s like this—this balance between existence in mirrors
and the hand that holds the scissors, the hand that cuts the hair
and the way—so suddenly it seems!—the element of touch
moves up an arm in darkness, hands drawn by gravity to hair.
is this eve’s promise? the nightmare one bite piercing skin
promised? that betrayal so severe they have to hide their hair?
some religions smooth themselves so completely, no evidence
it exists on the body. others shroud themselves to bury hair.
Mahsa! how strong the men? their hands against your skin—
did they—at least—ball that reckless cloth beneath your hair?
Brady Riddle currently resides in Lima, Peru, where he teaches secondary English at The American School of Lima. Brady has been a featured poet and presenter at writers' conferences and poetry festivals from Houston, Texas to Muscat, Oman to Beijing, China. Most recently, Brady’s work can be found in A Shanghai Poetry Zine and Alluvium in Shanghai, China; Spittoon Collective in Beijing; Voice & Verse Poetry Magazinein Hong Kong;3Elements Literary Review; New Note Poetry; and Hyacinth Review; among others. He is also a nominee for the 2022 Pushcart Prize in Poetry.