Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Touch


“Next day Madame brushed my hair like Momma  does at home. There is real surrender in letting my head be tugged by a rattail comb in someone else’s hands. First she parts, scoring my skull like a map, separating strands into smooth threads. Little teeth nip hair by hair out of tangles and the preliminary comb is ritual before the hair brush. That begins with bristles skimming like sea urchins down the contours of my head. Madame lifts the brush quickly off to make my hair fly, like a held music phrase; each strand slips back like a whispered note. With my eyes closed, I pretend I am underwater, head bumping, and sand scratches my scalp, currents tug me like seaweed ropes; I shiver. Bristles quiver near my ear, tiny nylon nails.

“You cold?”
“No I’m fine. Makes me shiver.””

(She accurately names the objects of the story’s world: rattail comb, little teeth, bristles, strand, tiny nylon nails. Then she describes the act patiently. The hair isn’t merely brushed and combed; it is tugged, parted, scored, separated, nipped, untangled, lifted. Each step matters)

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