writing

tonsure, or: i'm in queer church aka shaving off my hair again

tonsure, or: i'm in queer church aka shaving off my hair again
INK & NEBULA

i used to get stuck in doorways 
now, i compulsively cut off my hair. 
not cutting off my eyebrows too is a small victory. 

the hair cutting started in college 
when my head felt heavy and 
i said that it was the hair that lay in curls most 
of the way down to my ass that was the problem. 
not so much in curls really as in the kind of matted frizz 
of someone who used body wash as shampoo. 

i said it was the hair that made my head heavy 
and not the voice that kept me in doorways 
the voice that said onoff onoff onoff onoff -- 
on 
on i don't care if you're going to sleep on have you washed your hands 
wash your hands four times four times four times four times 
on off on off on off on off 
on 

when i started cutting my hair off in 2005 
i had only kissed two people 
both of them boys. 
i was surprised that either of them wanted to kiss me. 
the first one didn't really, 
just wanted to get into my shirt and invite me to prom 
and i was a freshman and wasn't allowed to go 
and that was before i could only walk in right angles 
walk in right angles walk in right angles walk in right angles 
along the tiles in the hallways of the high school. 

the second one who kissed me used mouthwash first 
we used mouthwash first 
and we sat in the library and read poetry 
and held hands 
washed hands 
made each other worse and better. 

i started cutting off my hair the day after he came to visit me 
in college the first time 
and i wanted to fuck for the first time 
and he didn't. 
his head was heavy with things like what if we die what if his mother dies 
what if the world ends. 
wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands 
and i thought that maybe i would never get light 

the haircut was shit 
because who can see the back of their own head 
but that first foot and a half of dead weight was some kinda prayer to the future 
a dare in the exposition of soft flesh over my jugular. 
strands lay on the floor of the bathroom spread over tiles like a bomb 
and i kneeled to pick them up for the first time 
thousands and thousands of knives.

Olivia Max GraceComment