Her Hair, a Braid
Lips wavy in the chrome teapot’s reflection,
you mouth for-ty, slowly, and again,
for-ty, as if it were a word discovered,
not the years since your mother’s death.
Would it help if I mention the boxes
in the basement?
She’s there, in a tin, loosely wound
beneath sepia tissue paper, a braid
to worry in your fingers.
I want to tell you I wore a coat
today with a fur collar
like your mother’s mink pelts.
Black and oily, they smelled
of crowded ships and herring,
wood smoke on snow.
I wrote the poem after a woman with a beautiful long braid passed me on the street. Such a feeling of sadness settled over me. I didn’t realize why, until later that day when I remembered a box my mother kept in the basement of our childhood home. My grandmother, who came to America from Russia, died when I was an infant, so I didn’t get to know her, but what was in that box told a story—an exotic story–of her life. There was a container that held glass jewels, and these fragile little glasses in filigree holders that she drank tea from. And there was a tin with her braid it in. The hair was dark brown and heavy in my hands. When I held it, it was like holding her in her youth. And there were the mink pieces, at once fancy and creepy, with their little nails and jet black eyes. Anyway, recalling that box made me ponder the things that trigger memory, and how our present is alive always with the past.
Tina Barry lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in The Orange Room Review, Lost in Thought Magazine, Inch Magazine, Elimae, StepAway Magazine, and other online and print publications.
Find more poems this week from the energetic mix of Tuesday Poets below. Just click on over to the main hub and see what’s happening. This week you’ll read a poem by “poet-on-the-sly” Paula Morris, best known for her novel Rangatira, winner of the 2012 NZ Post Book Award for Fiction. Then there’s a discussion of the poem and interview with the author, plus a bonus poem from Tuesday Poem hub editor this week, Renee Liang. You can also find poems by the various TP collective members — look down the lefthand sidebar and click on each one to see their weekly contributions.
For more Tuesday Poems, go here.