• Libbie


I ask her to show me

how to pincurl my hair

just like she used to do

every night.

In the dimness of the spare room

where days before

we’d set up a bed

and a TV to distract her,

a night stand where eleven bottles

of pills stand in a row,

she teaches me to wrap

a lock of hair around a finger

and cross the pins tight.

The backs of her hands

stained from age

but the skin still perfectly smooth.

Let’s not talk about

the visits with the doctors

in the morning,

the side effects

of medications,


All I want to know is

how to fix my hair just right,

the way she used to do

for the boys who all came calling

in their cars bright as bottles,

her sisters watching jealous

from the porch; she was always

the prettiest one.

In the morning I take out the pins

carefully, drop them in a dish,

let my curls out.

My hair is tangled and high

and wild as a field,

not at all like hers, smooth, sculptured,

in the pictures in the album

where she is younger than I am now

and far more beautiful.

She laughs. She tells me

it looks pretty good

from the back.

Libbie Grant

29 March, 2012

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