Hair: An Elegy

by Amy LeBlanc

Photo by Jerome Rozen, American Museum of Natural History


You cut my hair with shears
and used the strands to thread socks
for the lingering months of winter.
I ran over a rabbit the next day.
She laid low beneath my tires,
her evening gloves stretched
up to her shoulders,
her tendons and bones
split like porcelain.
Her fur was matted like mine
with dirt up the back of her spine.
She bled in the shape
of a drowning thing.
I sat by the window
while the bees in our yard
pulled petals from flowers
to make perfumed wallpaper.



The threads on my scalp
are like feathers in a bassinet.
I push strands down the drain
in the cracks of my chest
down the back of the couch
with braided crusts and breadcrumbs.
Without this fibril curtain
there is nothing left to cut.



You told me my hair was strong,
which meant that I could grow
a body inside of my own.
You held a match to my hair
to see how brightly I would glow.



My mother said it’s impolite
to die in a clean house.
I could imagine the shape of a body
sleeping on the kitchen tile,
hair splayed around her face
with freshly burnt coffee beans
grinding the floor below.
The floors had just been washed.
Her hair would smell like soap.



I brushed my hair with the prongs
of a fork, not antlers or teeth
but they bit and they tore
the hair from my skin.
The candles were lit
with the flames in my ribs.
There is fleece from my underarms,
and lint between my legs.
Strings of floss fall down my neck.
The wick relents in a prescribed burn.



The bees flock to my hair
full of salt and honey.
I place my black strands on their hive.
we are the same them and I
we seek our mothers
to share tales of births and droughts.
I told the bees first
in their small petal hives.
Leave me not in my distress, I said.
I’ll burn to stay alive.



Protein, keratin and dead cells
anchor each day into the next.
I don’t have whiskers
to tell me when to run,
I have this nest in my head,
the flickering light
of oxidation against my headrest.
Hold a candle to the ends
And bleach me when you’re done.
Seal me with wax
and dry me with honey.
The smell of wet wool
and the third week of winter
seep into my pores.
You sweep the ends into a pile
the size of a fist.



The strands are specimens,
placed in a jar and drenched in chemicals
and cups of coffee.
The conservatory fills with vines
And grapes, clinging on their lines
Of thread, sewed together with hair.
They grow from my head
They seed to my skin
Pollinating and seething,
Trying to break free from
The killing jar.



You teach me how to pollinate
when I glow and I grow,
but I would slit my hair with an axe
before you got close.



Amy LeBlanc holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature and creative writing from the University of Calgary. She is currently non-fiction editor at filling Station magazine. Her work has appeared, or is scheduled to appear in Room, Prairie Fire, Contemporary Verse 2, and EVENT among others. Amy won the 2018 BrainStorm Poetry Contest for her poem ‘Swell’. She is the author of two chapbooks, most recently “Ladybird, Ladybird” published with Anstruther Press in August 2018.

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