Hair Narratives

by Marilyn Bushman-Carlton


It’s the young French father’s longer arms
that first reach their daughter’s hair
in which her clasp is tangled. His hands lift
her weeping, chaste, childhood locks
as he roots for the problem. Carefully, deftly,
incrementally, he unknots the clasp
and the hair falls free, a sonata of filaments,
too many shades to decipher.
Even the dim light in the elevator we share
catches the sheen, illuminates his hands
as he gathers and tames it back
into the blue O-shaped ornament.
A few wispy strands stray,

and my thoughts stray to Jacob, recall his lament
when Elly was this daughter’s size:
How he wished for a class for fathers
to learn to fix their little girls’ hair.
I’ve seen his hands delicately lift his instrument,
seen them tighten the horse hair of the bow,
seen him arc his fingers, lace them so the strings can sing
their multifarious tones which stir and swirl
lighter than the air into which they tremble, then

I’ve seen blond hairs escape from the clasp ends of tip and frog
at the peak of a performance,
and seen his body lean and bend, stretch and dip,
seen him wait for the opportune moment
to rest his chin on the thin wood of his violin
and with dexterous fingers
quickly grasp the stray strands,
and put them tidily away.

MARILYN BUSHMAN-CARLTON has published 4 poetry anthologies, including 1 children’s book, and a biography.  She has won awards from the Association of Mormon Letters, the Comstock Review, the Utah Arts Council, and the Utah State Poetry Society. Her poems and essays appear in Fire in the Pasture, Baring Witness, Discoveries, and To Rejoice as Women, among others, and individual poems have appeared in local and national journals.  She is the mother of 5, grandmother of 16, and lives with her husband in Draper, UT.

Photo: “Braids” by Denisen Family