Monday, August 25, 2008


You're just an old woman with
gray hair, an old woman with
white hair said to me inaccurately
(my hair is white too) as I
passed her in her wheelchair.
My hair was once a rich
dishwater blonde as we
used to say, I don't know what they say now,
and I washed it once a week with
Packer's Pine Tar Soap, rinsed it with
vinegar and dried it
in the sun. It started turning white at
30 so that my daughters would be asked
"going for a walk with Grandma?" as we
passed people in the park. Now it stands up in
startled peaks but it's no use trying to let it grow; it
won't grow long, stops at about my shoulders where it
is just a nuisance, not long enough
to play with. I wanted to be able
to sit on my hair but it would not
cooperate so now I wear it short, content to appear
constantly astonished, as I actually am. Look at that! The
greens Tim gave me have blossoms; they look like
elfin pine cones. what can this plant be? And
it's four o'clock in the
morning and I'm still not asleep. What
have I been doing all this time? Just lying here
thinking about nothing or maybe about
Barack Obama. Well now that I know about
those blossoms maybe I can take them into my
dreams with me. In just three hours it will be
time for my brekk-fahs as I will be told by
my favorite LVN. She like
lots of the employees here is
proud to be from the
Philippines, fine with me but what's not
so fine is realizing after hearing the
director's comments about the Olympics
why there are no blacks working here, not
one. This woman I thought
when I used to see her but not converse with her
was so original with her turned-up pants and
sockless shoes is really a brainless wonder; she
told me about one soap opera she watches that an
episode ended well; "it turned out all right, the
unwed mother died." She keeps telling me that I will
soon meet her sister, whose
name is Frances, which as far as she knows is
my name too, though why I should want to meet
her sister is beyond me. She certainly would not want to
meet mine if she knew I was a proudly unwed
mother, grandmother, great-grandmother. Perhaps she thinks
as I once proposed
there should be a club of
Franceses. Frances was the name of
one of my father's ex-
girlfriends, though it's true there were a lot of
Francises in his family. My middle name,
Elizabeth, was the name of an eccentric
(because she never married)
great-aunt of my father's and my favorite
relative. And
that's enough about my hair.

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