Text of the Poem
While the long grain is softening in the water, gurgling over a low stove flame, before the salted Winter Vegetable is sliced for breakfast, before the birds, 5 my mother glides an ivory comb through her hair, heavy and black as calligrapher’s ink. She sits at the foot of the bed. My father watches, listens for 10 the music of comb against hair. My mother combs, pulls her hair back tight, rolls it 15 around two fingers, pins it in a bun to the back of her head. For half a hundred years she has done this. My father likes to see it like this. He says it is kempt. 20 But I know it is because of the way my mother’s hair falls when he pulls the pins out. Easily, like the curtains 25 when they untie them in the evening.