[Especially for my friend Donna-Jean, in response to her recent musings on intergenerational haircare on her blog.]
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Tell Me Why
As I braid your hair, standing you close so that the backs of your legs press against my knees, I sense mystery. Gold into gold and gold again, and the secret takes shape in my hands: simply that you are my child, branch of my vine. There, that's done. Now the other.
Perhaps it is the sense of ritual, of mothers through endless ages braiding the hair of daughters, that stirs this awareness of our connection. I do not know, but I am reassured. Lately it has seemed you are not my child, rising up against me, calling yourself "bigger," refusing bedtime stories, wiping off kisses. Now look in the mirror and see the neat braids. Go ahead, look really close and see the eyes behind your own -- not now, but someday, when you falter to know who you are, when you forget why the ivy twines.
by Suzanne Clark
from her lovely collection of poetic prose, Sketches of Home (Canon Press)
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and one little poem, related, by me:
Said in Braid
I hope when you are grown
you will still come to me
brush in hand,
speaking ancient braid language:
"I need a hoo-ha" and
"French, down the middle" or
"regular but loose to swim" or
"can you braid me a hairband like that time when I was five?"
And you will not know
how I can recall that very braid
of a decade past
until you've beheld
through a hand-smudged window
(stained glass indeed)
the blessed vision of a small golden head
with a plaited halo
gilded by a sunbeam
in your own backyard.
How strange that my maternal memory
which has let so many moments flee
can somehow recall all that my hands have wrought
in a daughter's hair.