My condition originates in silence and stealth, prowling from salon to salon, stealing their instruments. Clips and pins, wire-rollers, foil sachets of shampoo and hot oil: extreme unction.
I lay with my arms crossed over my white smock, a garland of scissors and tongs.
In the institution I would lock myself away, exorcising strands of hair from soap-cakes, from the mouths of drains. Long red tendrils, white strandsmice whiskers,
black cilium. Examining their roots under glass, the fertile bulbs, their fibrous shoots. The tulips I planted with my father in plots of snow; his head was light in the winter sun, untouchable.
They grew in rows, snail plaitsshine, softness and manageability; I required this alone, at first. That the hair must lie on its velvet pincushion like a diamond, that certain strands must be placed
in the open doorway between my room and the dark corridor, where hairdressers pass in rubber gloves and tinting apronstheir irons glowing hot, beguiling me
to the call. I never harmed them, the first girlsI arched their necks into bowls of steaming water, and lathered their hair with lemon juice, sage soaked in cider vinegar, herbs I grew in window boxes,
my hands pulling clouds though these tresses. Replenishing the follicles and cells from my germinal garden (the rosehip of their dresses).
The hair ceremonial that ended with MarieI had set and combed her hair, listened to its clean squeak when I stretched it into rat's tails and coronets. I was scared and tied her to a chair, gagged her, scared she may refuse.
To submit to further carethere are certain ways of doing thingsI could not stand to think of her, tangling and distressing the locks, splitting the ends
of the slip-knots. I washed her hair until there was no more shampoo, and then, in a delirium I know is love, I continued, with honey, salad oil, detergent, witch-hazel, bleach as she struggled
she tightened the ropes, my grip tightened and she strangled to death. I hid her in the earth stricken with remorse the earth where we set out the dull bulbs that would be tulips, switches of satin, lovely yellow forelocks.
My father's head was covered with a golden down I longed to touchwhen I reached out with my child's fingers, he slapped them away.
I think of Marie, her uncovered skeleton, often. More often I trace the forbidden contours of the crown. In my dreams the baby tigers are gentlethey cling to me as I stroke them, they tender me their warmth.