When I was a little girl
Fascination lay in the bottom drawer
Of a corner cabinet
Where hid a small bulging bag
Stuffed full of my mother’s girlhood hair –
Waist-length plaits, severed at the nape of her adolescent neck
When a more grown-up style beckoned
In the 1950s.
When I dared,
I would pull out one of the soft, heavy ropes,
Navy-blue school ribbon still tethering its end
And hold it to my own neck
Marvelling that my mother,
With her ever-changing colours, curls and styles,
Ever had the same plain, brown hair as me.
When I think of my mother now,
I remember her not just by her things,
By the bags stuffed in drawers,
But through my son’s shy smile,
My sisters’ gentle voices
And the waist-length plaits snaking down my daughter’s back.