Finding balance: week three of the Omer
New Lights at Kallah 2011

Beauty parlor: a revision for Big Tent Poetry



The first haircut is a revelation.
After months of scraggly and milk-stained
suddenly I'm light as the air
whispering across my nape.

I remember turning foam curlers
into a dragon while my mother tipped her head
into the shampoo sink, regal and relaxed.
Now she jiggles my son in her lap

singing "bye bye, blackbird"
as I allow myself to be transformed.
His first time beneath the Texas sky:
What beauty will he remember?

This week's prompt at Big Tent Poetry invites us to dig through our archives and revise a poem written around this time last year. On May 6 last year I posted Taste, part of my ongoing series of mother poems; I reread it several times this week, but the thing is, I really like that poem as it stands. So I dug a bit deeper and found a poem I'd drafted on our first trip to Texas which I didn't share here.

As it happens, I'd revised "Beauty Parlor" four times already; in my "poems 2010" folder were five drafts of the poem, and the most recent draft -- version five -- struck me as actually pretty decent. But I went back and reread each revision, and used bits from the earlier drafts to spark this newest version, which is version 6. I'll share version 5 below the extended-entry cut; it'll be interesting to see which one y'all like better!

It's a little bit surreal to return to these mother poems, especially the ones from the first six months of Drew's life. I've collected the first 52 mother poems into a manuscript which I've been gently revising; sometimes as I work on revising them I catch glimpses of what it felt like to write them, but the early ones especially feel very distant from where I am now.

Here's a link to this week's Come One, Come All post so you can see how others responded to this prompt.



Once I made a dragon
out of curlers
and snips of foil

while my mother
tipped her head back
into the shampoo sink

now she jiggles my son
and sings about blackbirds
while a stranger washes my feet

the baby peers
at the rainbow
of tiny lacquer bottles

his first time
beneath the Texas sky
what beauty will he remember?