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On the day to cut your hair
the sun has shaken
its shaggy mane of light
over the near ocean,
over the trees behind our house
after a night of hunting
after birds have refilled the trees
and death has slipped
into the deep woods, its memory
scant as a snail’s thread on the patio.

I wrap you in a cape and snug it with a clip.
How careful I must be, rounding
your good ear with scissors, the ear
my tongue loves to kiss, apricot-sweet,
and loves, too, the bad ear and its ghosts.
I thread your hair with a comb to gauge
length, silver in my loom.

I cut your hair in rhythm, remembering
the day you shaved what was left
of mine, how we walked
on a trail through the marsh, through
tufts of fog and I was slow as soup
of low tide, slow against your arm
remembering what it was like
not to lean, to be bright in my bones.

I see light differently now
painting the branches
behind our house, early, before
you’re awake. It’s more the gold
of afterlife, I think, a glimpse
before bodies take on all
that death.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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