a week ago i wrote a poem about a girl turned woman –
the daughter of a friend –
who tugged my hair into neat little rows,
made a 10 year old girl happy because
i didn’t have to wash or brush it for a week.
the pin pricks on my scalp every time she folded
another strand into the braid was a victory,
my striped head the trophy.
some times there were dots like blood blisters
in clusters on her arms,
other times i saw her teeth when she smiled.
five days ago girl turned woman turned corpse.
i pull my own hair to try and remember.
it doesn’t work.
i make one big braid instead of a dozen little ones.
it looks slick with grease, does not save me
a week of washing.
a clot small enough to rest on the end
of my finger stuck in the softness
in her skull, her mother finds her nested
in summer sheets, no dots like blood blisters,
but a baby cradled in the crook of her arm.