Poem for Poetry Thursday

Oh happy day, it's Poetry Thursday! My new favorite day of the week!

Work has been crazy and has sapped all of my creative energy. Haven't been able to get into a flow all week. Fortunately, I have a vacation right around the corner so there is definitely a light at the end my of tunnel.


Also, I should mention that artist and poet Sekou Sundiata has passed away. He was a friend to Cave Canem and the Dodge Poetry Festival, and he was just so damn talented it was hard not to listen. If you scroll down to Tuesday's post, you can watch him perform one of his best known works. Sekou will be missed.

When a poet passes on, the world just seems that much smaller.


Last week's Sunday Scribblings post on "hair" prompted me to post this old poem on the topic. It's a sentimental favorite of mine, written about my mom and me long ago.

Looking forward to reading your poems this week.


Dipping my head under the hot-cold water
of the kitchen sink
I feel her hand, her wedding ring lightly rubbing my head
slowly, not to cause burning, yet my scalp starts to feel
like angry ants stamping formation
Afternoon whittles itself into evening
as my mother opens the window to
the bruise-colored sky
We open to a moment of permanent,
neutralizing shampoo, and perm strengthener
This is my last night home
I am learning how to do this,
the opening and closing of her fingers on top of my
fingers shampooing
our hands turning into prunes
She tells me to be careful in my new life,
she says, the ones in your generation are always burning
rinse, towel off
Her hands are on my head
If there is too much air close the window
rinse again


Cate said…
January, I love this poem, esp. the bittersweet twist (that the girl is learning how to give herself a permanent). Beautiful words. xo
I loved it whem my used to wash my hair. She was her most loving at that time!

It brought back those memories. Thanks.

PS: I posted two poems.
Wonderful, as always!

(If you lived in Utah you could have a day off next Tuesday--when we celebrate the pioneers coming into the valley with parades and fireworks and picnics and bar-b-ques...much like the 4th of July.)
January said…
Sounds like a blast, Pepek! I need a day off.

January said…
Thanks, ladies, for your comments.
My mom would braid our hair every day before school- there's something about the intimacy of that gentle action that makes me never forget those times.
A beautiful poem, January...
Dani in NC said…
I like this poem. Moms have so much to pass on, especially if it is your first child and you've never prepared anyone to go out into the world before. Right now I am focusing on teaching my 14 yo the little things like hair care because I don't know how to teach the big things.
what a beautiful, touching peace jan! wow!

hooray for vactions! i have one right around the corner too...
Catherine said…
I enjoyed the poem - hope you have more writing time soon, I am very familiar with that busy feeling right now.
Jessica said…
I love the intimacy and the level of detail in this poem.
tumblewords said…
How well I remember those times. You revived those memories with fine crafting. I'm not sure I know anyone now who home perms so they miss a lot.
I love the mother daughter connection and everyday wisdom portrayed in this poem.
...deb said…
When I read your post in the PT comments I hoped for this kind of permanent.

I could smell the chemicals and my scalp burned. Vivid imagery.
chiefbiscuit said…
This is rightly a favourite of yours - so beautiful ... very lovely; a strong, memorable poem.
Holly Mac said…
Very lovely. Isn't it funny how those moments with our mother that were small at the time, perhaps just passing moments of growth, become so significant to us as we grow older. We grow to see those moments as mileposts.

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