what it means, uncovering what’s hidden

your hair was long
when we met, hippy hair
my mother called it
carbon-dating herself
or estimating age
in tree rings; polished
brown chestnut, curling slightly
to tease your neck
where it met your shoulders

I braided it for you once,
a French braid, laughing
& then loosed it
with my fingers, saying
I would not walk
holding hands
with a man
whose hair
was prettier than mine

prophetic, you looked
with that beard;
old testament,
but not shouting warnings
or sacrificing sons;
just murmuring seduction
masked as wisdom
through the unexpected redness
of your lips, the sensuality
of your mouth

a year later,
you shaved it, all of it–
hair, beard, mustache
& I saw for the first time
how your chin pushed forward
your stubbornness,
& the sharp angles of your jaw–
why, I asked,
my fingertips tracing circles
on the new nakedness of your scalp,
cupping the curve of your cheek
in my palm

you would not say it
at first

it was the crazy guy,
the one you always bought breakfast for
the mornings you walked
to the diner
who figured it out

repentance, he called it.
penance, you said.

***my offering for Dverse poetry prompt today, where we are describing character.  Could think of nothing but the ex who shaved his head for this one :)  Come join us–the fun starts at 3.

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in dverse poetry prompt, New Free Verse and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to what it means, uncovering what’s hidden

  1. This is a powerful example of how description can form the foundation of narrative. So good.

  2. Claudia says:

    very cool, very radical..ha…i once had a friend with gorgeous long hair…they looked like a brown velvet veil…

  3. Seb says:

    Yes, but you have to give up to get…

  4. Susan says:

    “just murmuring seduction
    masked as wisdom
    through the unexpected redness
    of your lips, the sensuality
    of your mouth”

    and you seduce us here too,
    you him, she, and his pretty hair
    so I/we are so shocked by the repentance.

    Bravo!!

  5. hedgewitch says:

    I like the way the secrets play in this, the ambiguities, as well as the mainline descriptions which are extremely well written and character-fleshing(as it were.) Always something more to dip from that classic well that is behind so much writing, appearance versus reality. And its amazing how much of our ‘identity’ is there in our hair and style–we almost become someone else when we change it.

  6. It is such a huge shock to see someone we think we know so well undergo a complete change especially without saying anything to anyone too. A gripping, very interesting read Susan.

  7. dfb says:

    Very powerful and, of course, strong characterisation.

  8. What a fascinating concept – shows that it’s not just us women who get emotionally (and metaphorically) tied up in our hair.
    Oh and I totally agree with you about guys with hair prettier than ours!

  9. hypercryptical says:

    “just murmuring seduction
    masked as wisdom
    through the unexpected redness
    of your lips, the sensuality
    of your mouth”

    Love these lines too, love all of it!

    It is strange how the addition or loss of hair on our menfolk change their whole appearance and how we view them…

    Anna :o]

    • Anna–thank you for liking my offering.

      Agree with your comment re. hair–and this was such a radical thing, it had to mean more than simply a –hey–time to change my look moment for him.

  10. brian miller says:

    wow really strong closure on this….the penance/repetence…ha on the no hair prettier than yours….just murmuring seduction
    masked as wisdom….really nice line there….could really see them……and then to undergo such change too…the stubborness of the jaw is a great touch too…

  11. WOW! This was painterly, professional and powerful. The ending raked across my soul and left its traces. An outstanding poem!

  12. doncarroll says:

    love this one and that 3rd stanza is my fave:))

  13. pmwanken says:

    I loved the pairing of those last two lines — a dramatic closure to your piece!

  14. How well you described him…I have to wonder though at the shaving part…repentance and penance goes deeper than this…but you did a wonderful job here ~

  15. markwindham says:

    so much learned from just one trait. well done.

  16. Laurie Kolp says:

    Facial hair and just hairstyles in general can really change a person’s appearance as you so beautifully described.

  17. Susan, this is brilliant work, with the hair – the seat of Samson’s power – transformed into a powerful metaphor for character. An amazing work, and a poem I wish I’d written.

  18. wolfsrosebud says:

    nice capture of the inner man… i saw too how the personality of the piece changed

  19. ManicDdaily says:

    Now, we’re all wondering what he did. k.

  20. danadampier says:

    How one act can change who we are and how we feel is fascinating.

  21. To be able to harvest such pleasant memories from a past means that it was a quality relationship!

  22. kkkkaty says:

    Harvesting, indeed…therapeutic for you to write about something that was planted so long ago ;)

  23. sonny says:

    fascinating write…made me want to carry on reading…

  24. Explores well the way physical features can alter perceptions – lose weight, gain glasses and trim a beard. What do you have now!

  25. janehewey says:

    you take us to such depths with this one, Susan. I love your heart and honesty in this tightly written poem. :)

  26. Emily says:

    Oh those last two lines just knocked me back on my heels. And just perfect, start to finish. Love this one.

  27. Poet Laundry says:

    Weaving (or is it braiding?) a bit of mystery. Loved this read.

  28. marousia says:

    This is a wonderful vignette … it really is incredible how a beard alters our sense of a person

  29. Deborah Avila says:

    great memories ! ~LOVE your golden wrough of words!

  30. shewritesherenow says:

    HAH! I LOVE long hair on men. The beginning of this holds a memory of happiness and by the end I am left deeply sad. Your word choices and play with Biblical themes worked beautifully.

  31. clawfish says:

    I relate to this so much at the end of the 80’s became clean shaven, short hair no leathers only hawaiin shirt and chino’s nobody recognized me at first maybe you need to transform so completely a short of shedding and this poem conveys it so well

  32. Powerful imagery. And a fascinating glimpse into what was once your world. thanks for sharing

  33. Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while today. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as good as when I arrived. I’ll be back!

  34. the BEST way I can say this is deeply felt, it by posting it on my FB page to draw others to read you! Consider it done!

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