All in by Jessica Jacobs

by Jessica Jacobs

  “Other lovers want to live with particular eyes

                                        I only want to be your stylist.”

                                        —Pablo Neruda


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.


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Jessica Jacobs is the author of Pelvis with Distance, winner of the New Mexico Book Award and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Her second collection Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going is forthcoming from Four Way Books in March 2019. She lives in Asheville with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown, and serves as the Associate Editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal. You can find more of her work at www.jessicalgjacobs.com.