after Joshua Bennett
o lion mane and petalled armor,
you sweet corona of twist & curl.
my fifty dollars more than the usual haircut
hair, my leg cramp in the braider’s chair
hair, my hour long wash and detangle
hair. my beacon to others that yes,
there’s some spice crooked and buried
in these veins, something more
than just gringa. my effigy:
I’m sorry for how I burned
you in order to get closer
or what I thought was godly then:
hair linear and unbending,
which required no aftercare
or tender fingers at the scalp.
no worship of the body,
or slowed time spent treating
every lock. O how I owe you
the work, and the time, and the courtesy:
you, little flames orbiting my skull,
you shape shifter, o how you shrink
and collapse and sluice against my bones.
It took years to unknot the narratives
that had rooted so deep. But watch
now: I decolonize as I deep condition.
And the kitchen at my nape hides a witch’s lair,
where oils and elixirs mix to conjure
that final form of you, o dead mass full of spring
& light. O how you embody my body:
the maintenance that yields the bounce,
the way you scream and holler and refuse
to be pulled through a fine tooth comb.
O unspooling DNA helix,
reciting history in every spiral, o baby
lasso hoops that catch the sun.
When I pull out the elastic
keeping you pressed & pinned,
look how I am crowned a king.