Monday, May 12, 2008

Since I 'm Stuck on Old Fashioned Hair Texts, Let Me Recommend A Lovely Hair Book

Say "hair" to a Black woman and you will provoke strong emotion. I've been scanning through poems as I prepare for my reading on Thursday. (8:00 at Your Inner Vagabond Cafe) I have more hair poems than any one writer should amass in a lifetime. I'm beginning to think I should just skip all of the descriptive language in a poem which deals with being a little girl and getting my hair done. I could eliminate the 3 to 4 stanzas and simply begin,

My Mom.
The Comb.
You know the rest.
This poem is really about
__insert rest of poem here.____

Instead - I debate reading The Motherboard versus this one:

Real Dolls

Mother yanked me out of the crumpled
cozy basket of my bed. Every morning,

slammed me onto the ironing board.
Ran the solid heat back and forth until no

deviant angles ruined the complex
folds and pleats. Hung me out

for the world to admire. When
I pried the wind-up key from my back,

my lungs took their first deep breath.
Frigid air blinked my eyes.

A jittery strobe light world.
Plucked out each spirit pinching pin,

scoured my soul on an old washboard.
until one wrinkle of laughter

unraveled me.

Double starch straight and pressed,
my cousin's mouth forces a crease. Real smile

hidden behind her teeth.
Behind her tongue. Her epiglottis.

Guilt. Snarls of rigid voices.
When emotions arrive at her throat,

she swallows. I see the forbidden
pushing, bulging against her neck.

Under powder and rouge,
flushed young skin

flawless deadpan face,
Shirt collar so stiff,

if she turns her head too fast,
I worry the soft arch of her

throat will slice open.

What could I see
if I startled her?

I want to caress the small of her back.
Touch her key. If I yanked it out,

she might flop over
eyes glazed and lifeless.

Instead, I hug her gingerly.
Lots of space between us.

Careful. Afraid to break her.
My hand grazes the girdle

squeezing her size from six to four.
Black slash near the base of her skull.

A curling iron beauty mark.
Wonder if she will ever refuse

dry cleaning. Curl lascivious
spent next to a pink satin hanger

on the floor. Or fondly stroke
a stain from one humid night

when she gorged ice cream.
Let it dribble down her chin.

Cool her nipple.

an abandoned chuckle.

So, when I encounter an writer who has put the agony to the side and approaches hair with warmth and humour, I am impressed! Let me recommend, Catching The Wild Waiyuuzee by Rita Williams-Garcia. The text is lively and spirited. The illustrations are lovely wonderful. They kept Winston guessing until the end that The Wild Waiyuuzee is a little girl running away from her mother on hair day.

(Of course, it has never occurred to him to scream, fuss and carry-on when I actually sit down to remove the mini-dreads which form on the back of his head. Don't let all of those lovely curls foll you. He has real, honest-to-goodness Black hair side by side with those "soft" curls.)

This is a book for the permanent library. This is one you will save and give to your daughter (or son) on their first Mother/ Father's Day. This is one I'm sure we'll act out the next time I come towards him with a comb in my hand. This is one that I wished had been written when my daughter was little. This is one which shows me how much more growing I have to do. Enjoy!


Karen James said...

Best wishes for your Reading! I wish I could see it.


Ferocious Kitty said...

"...this post has brought to Deesha by"


You can't read both poems?

See you Thursday night!


Christina Springer said...

Karen - I sure wish you could be there also.

Deesha - LOL! I guess I could read both.