By Lynn M. Hansen
Modesto Branch, California
1st Place Marion Doyle Poetry Award, 2020
They warned me it would be gone.
It would take fourteen days
for my hair to fall into my food,
gather in clumps at my feet
in the shower, form mats
in my brush or comb by the fistful.
As if on schedule, long grey strands
loosened from their follicles
then drifted to the floor
making it necessary to clip
the remainder, before a patchwork
pate became unbearable.
Friends came, held hands
in ceremony to honor loss.
Mani burned white sage, offered
Yaqui prayers, sang Lakota blessing.
Melinda buzz-cut the remaining strands.
Lillian helped harvest my locks
for moments of sharing –
strands draped from garden fence posts,
at the wildlife refuge bundles dangled
on barren willow twigs and cottonwood
branches swollen with buds, wisps
of hair fluttered on naked cattail stalks –
my gifts to the birds for their mothering.