Mother's hairdresser lifts her tresses, glides them through his fingers, smoothes them flat, focuses on the task of shaping
& defining. All the while tangles of thickening plaque beneath her scalp are redefining who she is, shaping who she'll be. I watch her facing the mirror,
she doesn't look or look away. Brushing away tiny slivers of gray from her face, I wonder what she's seeing, feeling. My thoughts stray
to her beauty-parlor days of old: Once back home, she'd head straight to her bedroom, root herself at her vanity & pull & pull her sheared black locks,
frantic to stretch them back to a length she could live with.
Fine snippets fall to the floor of the shower stall in mother's nursing-home bathroom, mother, statue- still on a plastic stool—me, standing behind her
wondering what to do with the comb while I wield the scissors with one hand & clasp her locks with the other—Mother's tangled brain
not letting her grasp she could ease my task, turn her head when asked, hold the comb, look in the mirror. See what a fine job I'm doing?
Once month for seven years, I stand at the sink in mother's bathroom, trying to rinse all traces of her out of my mouth before they break my heart
more than I can stand.
Ruth Sabath Rosenthal is a New York poet, well published in literary journals and poetry anthologies throughout the U.S. and, also, internationally. In October 2006, her poem "on yet another birthday" was nominated for a Pushcart prize. Ruth has authored five books of poetry. The books: Facing Home (a chapbook), Facing Home and beyond, little, but by no means small, Food: Nature vs Nurture, and Gone, but Not Easily Forgotten are available for purchase on Amazon.com For more about Ruth, please feel free to visit her website: www.newyorkcitypoet.com