When my daughter doesn’t brush her hair
the strands clump into a knot
at the back of her head the size of a softball,
and I go hard inside,
because I’ve told her
a hundred times
to care for herself.
You look like you have no
Mother, I say,
the knot in my stomach
tight as the one in her hair,
as I disappear into memories
of messy-haired girls,
and how my mother and I judged
We are late for school, but still, I brush
my daughter’s hair so she can go to the assembly
and accept her citizenship award
groomed and cared for like the affluent,
only child she is. I say,
This is your job! If you’d brush your
hair every day we wouldn’t be in this mess!
I show her again how to brush
from the bottom up, struggling to use gentle strokes,
as I seethe at every Ouch! and That hurts!
I am unprepared for this,
who sometimes doesn’t do what she’s supposed to do,
who is oblivious to what I suppose others will say,
exposing her weakness, her flaws,
ignorant of the dangers
of going out into the world exactly the way she is.