And what if you are bottomless? she asked. What would that mean?
I sat in a barber’s chair for the first time in my life. I said to King, the barber, “Do whatever you want.”
“I’ll make you look like the Jewish Halle Barre,” he said. I closed my eyes and listened to the clippers, felt my hair falling around me. I kept them closed the whole time. I’m in your hands. In your hands.
Tonight, I crouched on the back steps–more like on a mountain of snow–and smoked for the first time since June, 2005.
My face exposed to the world, like February trees bright against the moonlit sky. The leaves gone. My hair gone, mostly. My eyes crescent moons lighting my face.
I cried when I got home Sunday night. Then I rubbed coconut oil into my hair. I asked if she still thought I was beautiful, and we both knew her answer wasn’t the one that mattered.
It’s just hair, I responded.
You can’t underestimate how abandoned they will feel if you separate, my father said at the Wellfleet drive-in last summer.
But it was the boy I worried most about leaving. But I’m still here, I told him. I am still here.
I dreamed I was eating an apple, all the way down to the core. Inside, hidden then revealed, was a check or a bill of a large denomination. She who feeds herself, she who seeks knowledge, discovers a large sum inside.
Chava. Eve. Obey only the moon, follow her shadows across the yard illuminated. A rustle of dried leaves against cold sky.
He cries, reads to me over the phone, a masterpiece about the boy and the man, and I realize the girl in me wanted him to be the father-provider, and the woman in me became his mother. Now we are both free, with no one to absorb our stories. It is winter, stark. A time for everything.
Your eyes are bottomless, ancient, she said. But bright, like they’re reflecting the world back to itself.
A friend pulls two wigs from her bag. I do not know why she has two wigs in her bag, but I immediately put one of them on. This is me, too, you know. And then I am rubbing coconut oil into a woman’s skin, along her spine, around her shoulders, her back an expanse, a winter sky, a perfect field.
I am sitting at a bar, drinking a glass of Italian wine. I love the way my lips look with this fancy lip gloss I bought for myself, and for once I don’t feel the need to apologize. I want to be adored, allured, available, alone, an island, an ocean, soft moss growing on a rock, the moon rocking the tide back and forth, some rough lullaby.
She reaches for my hand in the dark. I let her.
I am fourteen. Or ageless. Anyone’s guess.
I am more me.
He is learning how to be the man, the only one who can comfort the boy, stay with him always.
She lets him go. I am still here, more here than when I was there. No longer protecting the system. No longer falling apart.
I want to smoke, drink, eat, fuck, find myself and lose myself everywhere. I bring my sneakers to work and put them on at 4:00pm and run straight up the hill on icy, snowy, slushy sidewalks. Strong.
It’s just hair.
It’s just life.
Oh, life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
So I’m choosing my confessions, emboldening my regressions, reaching for a cold star cliche and wondering if the spirit of a dead poet can guide some words my way.
Listen hard, she told me. And I did. I did.