The Hair Loss, Peru 1997

It happened in the settling.  The follicle
yawned something small, something
like “oh” or “ah” but not like “mercy,
I’m tired,” and then it leaned back
and kicked up its telogenic root.
I was not listening, and Peru was so loud.
The knife sharpener’s whistle shrilled
as he pushed his cart through the streets.
Car horns hung in the air like tossed bricks,
and everyone yelled. CambioPropina.
Ya. Ya, no más. Even God blew in my ear.

Before then, the fever.  I was in the Andes
milking a cow.  She was sick, too, her milk
clotting inside her, the dense logic of infection.
I have a photo of this day:  It is a long brown hair day.
It is a bend your knees and get back up on your own day.
It is a let me carry the water from the river day.
It is a full pail of cellular death day— But you can’t see that
in the photo.

When the fever pitched me into the dark, all the world
became a knot of hair.  Or knotted into my hair.
I could not separate husband from shadow, or dog
from doctor, so that when I finally woke I was pulling
sadness from between the strands.  Something told my body
Unburden yourself from what you do not know, and my body, settling
into its knowledge, said Yes. Keep the sadness. Lose the hair.