Ode to My Hair

— Raymond Antrobus

When a black woman
with straightened hair
looks at you, says

nothing black about you,
do you rise like wild wheat
or a dark field of frightened strings?

For years I hide you under hats
and still, cleanly you cling to my scalp
conceding nothing

when they call you too soft,
too thin for the texture
of your own roots.

Look, the day is yellow Shea butter,
the night is my Jamaican cousin
saying your skin and hair mean

you’re treated better than us
,
the clippings of a hot razor
trailing the back of my neck.

Scissor away the voice of the barber
who charges more to cut
this thick tangle of Coolie,

now you’ve grown a wildness,
trying to be my father’s fro
to grow him out, to see him again.


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