“Other lovers want to live with particular eyes
I only want to be your stylist.”
Who needs Rumpelstiltskin, when such treasure
abounds: her gold woven
around my bike gears, tangled in my toothbrush,
vining every drain—even, sometimes, found
in my mouth upon waking. And just
this morning, from the bathroom, she called me in.
My mama’s the only one who ever
brushed out my hair, she said. But you’re
my wife. You should know.
I began at the bottom, her curls separating
with the thick sound of good cloth tearing.
Do you see why I had no friends
when I was little? she asked. Mama
brushed out my hair each day before school.
I eased my fingers, for the first time,
all the way through; asked how that felt for her.
Vulnerable, she said.
Shimmering out beneath the overhead light—a climbing
of kudzu, a symphony of trumpet vines—her hair revealed itself.
It was like Velcro, she said. Anything would stick in it—
bubble gum, spitwads, pencils. I’d come home crying
and Mama would hold my ugly, frizzy head
and say, Baby, they’re just jealous.
As though her love could make the lie so.
When it comes to her, her mother and I
have this kind of love in common. Only now, the lie
has come to pass. My wife, whose hair
is the shade of farm-fresh yolks, the color of things rich
on the tongue. Whose hair sings the plaintive song
of bed springs. Whose hair is the drifting
smoke from a village of chimneys, corkscrews
enough for a thousand bottles of wine. A ski slope
of s-curves, a grove of twirling maple keys,
every playground slide
worth sliding. Before a rapt audience,
a company of ballerinas cambers their hands
to trace out, in the air, your hair; my dear angora
goat, my cloud of bats spiraling from the cave.