This is the time of year that we think of our mothers and of mothering. It's inescapable.
In that spirit, here’s a poem of mine:
My Hairdresser, Mercedes, Seven Days After Her Mother’s Funeral
She understands the dictionary
of scissors and the snips falling
from my head are her alphabet.
I have removed my eyeglasses.
In the mirror my face is a blur,
and Mercedes an apparition
that swivels the chair where I sit.
We both think of our mothers.
The blades join again and again
like the cluck of a tongue. This time,
it is my turn to listen. The cut
letters at my feet spell
the beginning of her grief: a blade
hinged between before and after.
Mercedes speaks like those who remember
the recent dead. Her mother’s
ordinary acts now miracles:
frijoles melt on a tongue, eight
children raised by a hand so soft
birds land on her upturned palm.
Mercedes swears to pray all the Hail Marys
she did not pray since she crossed
to the north. To gather prayers
the way she sweeps up my hair.
Her story now barely audible above the din
of the blow dryer, I slip on my eyeglasses,
read the litany from her lips.
My Hairdresser, Mercedes, Seven Days After Her Mother's Funeral originally appeared in Catena, Silverton Press.