Naked and crouched on nubbly carpet,
Between Leesha’s rough knees,
I can feel the fabric of her shorts,
Slick, cheap, donated; behind them the couch,
Gummed over from too many bodies.
Leesha is talking, although not to me.
Jerry Springer is on, his early incarnation,
The guest is a fat man, Bacchus like, bearded,
He has married his ass, has
Made a special ring, to close round the hoof.
Leesha’s fingers, horn colored, move through
The raveled skein of my hair, drawing
Out tresses, occasionally humming, prayer-chanting
Down in her throat. The narrow comb moves, parting hairs,
Removing the shells of incipient lice. Six fall to my knee.
My legs are bald, parted before me,
My clothes in a wad, to bleach in the sink.
The refrigerator has a padlock on the door.
The kitchen is locked, closed against light.
I think about monkeys. If I were one,
Leesha could feed me the food I have grown.
She rinses the comb in the bowl by her feet,
The one which smells of urine and water.
Her feet are bare, ashen, I look at her toenails.
‘Girl, if I could grow your hair.’, her tongue, red, clucking.
She turns on the clippers. Tooth broken. Chattering.
At my feet, a consummation. Hair falls,
Brownish, scab colored, smelling of blood,
The air on my scalp. Why did she comb it?
The hair on the floor, suddenly dead, everything,
Dead. All of that life lost, to no cause
And no one is eating.
Cloth bleached too long loses its weave. Threads cut
Bind nothing. The weft of the carpet raises a rash,
Too much flesh dust, not enough washing, I add to it
My own, wondering, how long it takes
A hair to decay out of half-life.
Bethany W. Pope is a UK-based writer originally from the Southern United States. She has lived in North Carolina, Scotland, the Philippines, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Kansas, Texas, and Wales before settling in her current home in Wiltshire. She lived in an orphanage for three years before dropping out of high-school, but later continued her education at Mary Baldwin College where she earned her BA in English Literature. She went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from University of Wales Trinity Saint David and her PhD in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University. Her first book, A Radiance is to be released by Cultured Llama in June, her second collection Persephone in the Underworld is to be published by Rufus Books.