My great-great-great-grandmother's hair
Shown to me by my mother
Blond, like wheat, braided
Proof that humans existed before now
Like an Egyptian mummy
Yet real, like yesterday
Cut from my grandmother's head
While she was still alive
Like a samurai who cuts his topknot
Or a jilted Japanese woman
A sign of dishonor? Or renewal?
Native Americans braid their hair
A way of binding, concentrating power?
Strong like a rope
That it not blow away like chaff
Our hair keeps growing after we die
Is it a vessel for our spirit?
Not yet ready to leave our body?
Our men do not wear their hair long
What remains of them after they're gone?
Their unbroken rope, their legacy?
Their children do not fondle their locks
After they die
April is National Poetry Writing Month