Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Poem: My hair returns

I have no idea why I am writing and posting so frequently these days. I hope it is not a hardship for you. But why should it be? You don't have to read, or comment, or nothin'. But I gotta keep this pen pumping for some reason. Whatever the lasting value (and that doesn't matter much to me) I am compelled. If you come and read, bless you, and bless you if you don't! Let it flow on by.

Here is a little bit of surreal whimsy as the sun rises over my shoulder.

My hair returns

My hair flows
out my office and
down the corridor at work,
the old, high-ceilinged university hall
with industrial lights hanging down
like dangle-pearl earrings,
not bright enough to read by.
Sadly, the old hall will come down
next year after its hundred-somethings.

My hair is gold again, in rushing waves
like in my college youth
not unlike these students who wait
outside my door
lined up in bands and ribbons
on their stiff wooden chairs on
the banks of my river-hair, with
bright white apples on their laps—
a virtual picnic!

They come for advice,
as if I am a scryer,
and my hair the crystal river
running on to their future life.

Did I tell you, I stopped straightening it
with flattening irons and other
falsehoods? And now my curls,
when you come in at last
to my room from the hall,
are the wiry wisps of a crone
who skips upriver
on the backs of stones.

Here is a photo of the top of my curlier-than-ever-it-was head at my office desk, taken by my own white apple mac magic camera. I haven't stopped coloring over the gray yet, maybe that will come. If I had Don's salt-and-pepper hair, I wouldn't think twice. Humor me, I'm taking this aging thing in baby steps.

Oh look, I just realized how like Stanisław Wyspiański's sewer I am!
Do you think she's really a redhead,
or did she (or he) color her hair too?



Heather said...

I love your curly hair! I didn't know it was naturally curly and that you had to iron it flat! Love the golden color, too. I don't know if I'll ever stop dyeing my hair. I just love to experiment too much, I guess. And my natural color just isn't poetic enough. :) This was such a fun poem to read this morning when I am very tired and trying to get up the energy to drive to Detroit and have fun with my 3rd and 2nd graders.

C.M. Jackson said... the curls... you are beautiful

Louise Gallagher said...

I love your curls.

In fact... I envy your curls -- because, of course, I have bone straight hair which I do not colour so it is salt and pepper, though as my hairdresser says, women pay a fortune for your lowlights.


Love your poem too. It has an ethereal quality to it, a lightness of being that makes my heart sing.

Thanks -- and yes, you are beautiful. You are you.

Shari said...

Love the hair. I always thought your hair was pretty, but I like this look and it must be so much easier. I spent so many years trying to fight my hair. Love the painting and the poem, too. Sad that they are going to tear your old building down. You would think a university would be a safe place for old buildings.

Margaret said...

Oh Ruth! I love "like dangle-pearl earrings" And your hair flowing like a river down the hall, swirling around all the children you are helping set adrift towards their future... You are good... Keep them coming - I might have to read them all at once as I sit (finally) on the weekend evenings... but that is OK!

And I love your wavy/curly hair... why? Because mine is bone straight, of course!) I need to do a post on my hair as I recently matched my roots and went dark... (ignored those sprouts of gray :) We will see how long it lasts...

hedgewitch said...

A charming poem--hair is such a fluid commodity, and so intrinsic to one's persona. I really mourn the loss of it on young men, where it was so flamboyant and idiosyncratic in my youth. I say, as so many have said echoing the great Jimi, 'Let your freak flag fly.'

The Bug said...

Ooh LOVE the curls! I'm planning to go gray at some point, but I need to get my hair cut really short first because I can't abide the two tone look.

The poem is fabulous - I also love the image of the students sitting on the banks of your hair...

The Solitary Walker said...

Keep that pen pumping, Ruth! At least, as far as I'm concerned. I like the curls! And I like the poem. Which flows like a river. It sounds so spontaneous. But there's so much craft and experience that has gone into this. I know that. I'm in awe, really. How do you do it? Really good stuff.

Grandmother Mary said...

From one with stick straight hair you must promise to never straighten your b-yu-tiful hair. I've always wanted curly hair. Always. My hair was red until a few years ago but I'm letting it be it's natural color. Go for it!

Anonymous said...

Don't stop writing and don't cut those curls. I am a newcomer with a private blog but I enjoy reading your and Solitary Walker's blogs. Someday, I will be able to write as freely as you both do. Your poem is nice and I understand it...and...your hair is beautiful. Don't stop writing and don't cut those curls. 8-)

Josh said...

I apologize: I don't get poems :(

BUT! I did want to say that your profile picture has the be THE BEST I've seen.

Very clever.

Friko said...

You're writing more, I'm writing less, that's the plan. My hair is light when it was dark, from dark auburn to pepper and salt with blondish streaks. Wavy rather than straight or curly.

But, while life is good, what does any of it matter. Flow along on your stream and pick from the edges what you'd like to take on the journey. I'l meet you at the end of the rainbow.

Nancy said...

Ruth, I'm delighted by this post! I did recently stop covering the grey and it's been interesting the effect it's had on my sense of self and others' perceptions of me (the others mostly say I look 20 years younger...seems counterintuitive to me).

My hair has grown steadily curlier over the years, returning me to the curls of my toddlerhood. In high school I was one of the few who didn't have to iron her waist long hair to keep it straight.

Must be true that as we age, we head back to childhood!

amy@ Souldipper said...

Curls or not, let's keep skipping the stones as long as we are able.

Anonymous said...

I think I figured out how to show my curls,too.

freefalling said...

woo hoo!
wild curls!
free and crazy!

Suze said...

I enjoyed this.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Heather! Even I didn't know how curly my hair had gotten, since I started the straightening process while it was wet. :|

May I use that line about my natural hair color not being poetic enough? :D

I hope you had a great day with your school kids! I'll see you tomorrow at Robert's show, I hope.

Ruth said...

Thank you, C.M.!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Louise. The beauty industry makes a fortune off us as we strive to be beautiful. They tell us what's beautiful, and we believe it! Yikes. But the truth is I really do want to feel beautiful, and I am working on worrying less about the outer stuff as I age. It's not easy. If I at least feel confident in how I look, then I can let it go. I don't want anyone thinking I look like a freak show. But really, why should I care about that?

Ruth said...

Thanks, Shari. Yes, my hair is incredibly easy now, though some days it looks better than others. I keep making minor adjustments.

Yes, our poor old building. I love it, but some hate it. The thing is some of the ceiling has fallen down, and it does not have enough structural integrity to withstand refurbishing, sadly. We'll be moving across campus in the summer.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Margaret, I added that line about the earrings after posting it, so I'm glad you like it. And thanks for encouraging me to keep writing fast and furious. I am going to work, however, on slowing down a bit for better stuff. I appreciate your desire to read and catch up!

You are beautiful, and I'm sure your hair is lovely. But I say, we get to do what we want to feel good. I just have to keep adjusting how I think about that!

Ruth said...

Oh, Hedge, you bring back my teenage summers when it didn't matter who they were or how they otherwise looked, if a boy walked down the street with long hair, I loved it!

Ruth said...

Thanks, Dana! I'm glad you like the poem. And more power to you as you make the transition one day into gray. I just saw a woman I've known last evening, who went from coloring her hair brown, to totally gray, and she looks fabulous!

Ruth said...

Robert, thanks so much for your generous words and encouragement to keep up the pace. We'll see how it goes. I'd like to apply more discipline actually, so that will be my challenge.

Ruth said...

Mary, I promise, though sometimes I am tempted to go back to straightening (because I felt a bit prettier). I can see in your coloring that you were a redhead, very like my sister Ginnie here in blogland. If my hair color were more poetic (see Heather's cute comment), I might go gray now.

Ruth said...

Jan, how wonderful to meet you, and to know that you read Robert too. How I've loved his pilgrimage to Le Puy. Thank you for your encouragement to keep writing, and not to cut my curls!

Ruth said...

Hi, Josh, you are in good company about poems. I do try to write accessible ones, but no worries.

Thanks for telling me you like my profile pic! I had fun setting it up after my original sunrise tree pic. I made a collage from stuff around the house and farm that had meaning and wasn't planning to use it as my profile pic until a couple of friends suggested it. I'm glad you like it. :-)

Ruth said...

Friko, it sounds like a deal. I agree, part of the journey is to not take ourselves too seriously! Thanks for your always interesting comments.

Ruth said...

Nancy, thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed this! I have seen the truth of what you say about going gray for many women. As for your hair getting curlier, the same happened to me, but I did not start curly at all, but bone straight as a child. But I am heading back to childhood in other ways. ;-)

Ruth said...

Amy, it's all about freedom, isn't it? Self perception, and how we think we are perceived by everyone else . . . sometimes I believe something that isn't even remotely true.

Ruth said...

Letty, thanks! I do feel a bit wild, and I like it. I wonder if yours is still uber-short? Maybe so now that you're heading into summer.


Ruth said...

Suze, I'm glad! Thanks for stopping by and reading.

erin said...

i see you come alive in new and wonderful ways. here you are, ruth, living. no apology, for how can we apologize for breathing and being who we are, for being so present?

you are stunning, you in your photograph with your eyes tenderly closed and you in your painting, such small shoulders.

i do have the itch to break you out of that office though. why on earth do we build walls?

on aging - just in the bathroom i looked in the mirror. it is a visceral reaction to love our youth. it is work to love our age. what have we ever gained without work of some kind or another though? my face is beginning to sag, however just last week a woman startled because i said i had to get home to my two children. but how old are you, she asked. 41, i laughed. but i thought you were 17. i think sometimes people see with things other than their eyes. we do this, too, of course, of ourselves. not one of us is wrong.


GailO said...

The likeness of your photo with the Sewer is amazing! Like it was staged purposefully...both beautiful curly bowed heads...A wonderful poem Ruth!

I can't resist keeping up with your poems and posts even if it takes me a while to get to them...Go with the flow!

Marcie said...

Love your curly hair..and how you're celebrating it! Terrific!

Brendan said...

Woman, don't you know that curly is the provenance of hot poetas? I dated one between marriages who's gone on to be almost as famous a poet as her hair.

Seriously -- great to see the tryworks cooking with such steady intensity. I love the abundance of this poem, hair overspilling the margins and flooding the halls of the workday. Like your poems these days.

ds said...

Ha ha--love your poetic hair (and your real hair also, I've always wished for curls)! Keep writing, whenever, however you wish. I'll always read it.

Ruth said...

erin, I love what you say. There is such a volume of energy around these presentations of ourselves visually. And then there is another whole world of how we perceive one another. It's beautiful, I think, all of it, and fluid. Like the woman who thought you were 17. What I truly love, is when I get a first impression of a person, not in a necessarily attractive way, and then over time they become the most beautiful person I ever saw, even in their by-media-standards-unattractiveness. It is always a lesson to me, and now I am overcoming the difficulty of being biased against those who are strikingly beautiful. Why should I not also enjoy that kind of obvious beauty, and wonder and feel how it must feel to live inside that presentation?

Ruth said...

Oliag, I'm grateful that you can't resist keeping up with my poems! Thank you for reading them and responding as you do.

It was funny when I posted this piece and then looked over at the painting of the woman sewing on my sidebar. I had already found a likeness between us, but then! I was startled by it, and quite pleased.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Marcie! It's an adventure. :-)

Ruth said...

Thank you, Brendan, for reading and encouraging the writing flow. I like what you say about your hot and famous poetess. My hair was once famous (I think Don married me for my hair), and then I followed fashion and straightened it for about ten years. Turning into an old lady gramma type and walking into spiritual freedom means I get to do what I want. But my psyche isn't in step yet, so my spirit is slowing down while she catches up. I wonder what Hillman would have to say about all this (and what might he say about red . . . hair?)

Ruth said...

ds, thank you for that, my friend! I need you to read, because you get me. :-)

Ginnie said...

Of course you would write a poem about your hair going natural. It came out, so to speak. :) I love it, Ruth!