My mom was a beautician,
her shop on the front of our house,

a screen porch walled and windowed
in the ’70s, then filled with chemicals,

dryers, scissors, sinks, rollers,
and combs. She could tease

the hell out of a woman’s hair
on Saturday, make her head ready

for church—every strand pressed
obsessively into place before the final

shellacking with Aqua Net spray.
To this day, my bonds of childhood

memory link cartoons, ammonia,
perms, milk, and Frosted

Flakes. In her beauty shop, Mom
broke and reformed protein chains

till hair curled like a croquinole
dream posed in a salon

chair. But bonds were hard for her
in real life—other dressers

always out to get her, spreading
lies, stealing friends and tips.

So, she worked alone, even following
her clients to the funeral home,

telling the mortician he could
“go now”—not afraid, without need

of witness for her final free
act of beautician mercy and grace.


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