...if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her...
1 Corinthians 11:14-15
When the children come this year
to ask you, as they do every year
you fob them off at first
and then you relent
as you do always.
Summer after steaming summer
when the corn is high as the screen porch
and the air loud with all manner
of small winged things,
the children come knocking
and beg you to let down your hair.
Seventy years in cotton gloves
for church and town and sun
have left you with a lady’s hands
pale and fine.
You reach them into your crown,
extracting each wire pin
slowly til the final pin is drawn.
Then your audience holds its breath
and you hold them
while you uncoil your secret,
whispy now as cloud
but still a fall that reaches
and for the smallest instant
you are a woman full of her powers,
and he is there
smiling at this glory
that was only ever for his eyes.
The little girl asks if she might brush it,
but suddenly you’re flustered.
You leave them on the front step,
promising to return with watermelon.
These are children after all
and you are a faded Rapunzel.
Kristin Henry is a Melbourne poet and teacher, originally from America’s deep south bible belt. This is a poem based loosely on a childhood memory, and on her grandfather’s caution that if a woman cuts off her hair ‘she cuts off her glory’.
It has been accepted for publication in platform, Issue 9 published by Victoria University.