Play with my hair

If it was a learnable skill, I’d show you how.
That it starts from the nape, a tug from the roots out,
fingers hooked into ends of questions. That it’s not sexual.
It’s only the blood and guts of childhood.
The sweep of your mother as she puts you in bunches.
The half sun of autumn assembly. Girls lined up
like harvest festival soup cans, small hands smuggled
into the scalp of the girl in front, in the school year
me and my brother will be taken out of a week early.

Maybe somewhere, people have happy childhoods
and it feels like hooked fingers, flattening you out,
digging air into those roots so the ghost can escape,
all your smallness, exhaling from the neck, and we roll
down the hills and nothing bad has happened yet.



– I’ve recently rejoined Roddy Lumsden’s Wednesday night group – a kind of algonquin table of poets, but less well-dressed and with more scampi fries involved. We bring in poems and then tear them apart. This is what I took in last Wednesday.

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