Meditation on Hair
A school of fish enters the dark cove
races for pulsing cocoons. Live scripts
of intricate twists and turns.
You ponder the origin of arrows.
Eyes of strangers swim
the dark waterfall of your hair.
Time erodes you
into the ambience of hyacinth.
You read yourself from cover to cover.
A single fish survives, decoded
to form a new universe.
Your hair never reaches your ankles,
its length cannot exceed the lifespan
of a single hair. You arrange tea leaves
into patterns of Cygnus and Orion,
dream of slender men in a starlit forest
metamorphosing into swans that glow
in flight into a liquid sky.
You are a room that grows with its occupant
tapping your insides with tiny feet and fists.
You are a room filled with iridescent echoes.
Nascent shoots bristle on the horizon.
The drummer squeezes through
the tunnel to dry, airy light.
Time erodes you. Hummingbirds flee.
A glistening in the mirror: needles of white hair.
The roots within your head discuss your change.
Finally, you enter a lake of indigo stars.
Your hair continues to grow beneath the earth
until your body dissolves in fossils’ exhalations.
Wang comments on her poem:
I had long hair when I was a little girl, until my mother cut
it very short when lice were found in it. The lice were blamed on
the other girls I played with, who lived in the countryside and
worked more and washed less than I did. I was very fond of these
girls, because they liked me, in spite of my love of books. I
was envious that they got to keep their hair long, lice or not,
and I was forced to keep my hair very short.
When I went away to college, thousands of miles away, and at
the age of sixteen, I finally got to choose my own hair
length. This did not sink in for almost a year. After that,
I never cut my hair.
My hair grew longer and longer, and then it seemed to have stayed
more or less the same length. Sometimes, people asked my permission
to touch my hair for good luck. Most of the time, people ask me
how long I have been growing my hair. I got tired of this question,
and the unwanted attention of strangers when I traveled alone.
This poem was written to answer some of the questions I was asked.
This poem was also triggered by a poem in Li-Young Lee’s first
poetry book, Rose.