I am all hair. Not the charming furriness of Frida Kahlo’s
ironical unibrow, the sensual sepias of her lounging, nude,
dense mat of pubes and happy trail on display;
no Janis Joplin flower-child locks, fuzzy and aromatic
as a cannabis stem, thick as shag carpet you can sink in
up to your ankle boots. I am not even the languid sophisticate,
a post-war Parisienne, shocking my American boy-liberators
with my sexual mores, my capacity for pastis, and my
underarm stache. My head is a forest where tigers could hide.
My downy upper lip is the sere grass of the veldt,
aching for the thick white pour of your infusion.
It has spread to my cheeks so that when you turn me to the sun,
I present a sort of reverse halo. In another life, I imagine
I was a bearded lady, maybe even one of the Aceves,
circus performers extraordinaire; so swarthy,
I had to be made a showcase. Every night, a box-office sellout,
a special midnight show, midway popcorn
and a dozen marriage proposals. Beneath this pelt,
no one can see me blush. My spines rival
the succulent bodies of Lareto. The briars of my eyebrows
raise the roof on questions of femininity. The down of my arms
and my prickly-pear legs would drive Mr. Eliot
to distraction across the teacups, my natural merkin
would make a Wookiee growl, and yes,
“Venus in Furs” is my personal anthem.
Lionel Sweeney’s got nothing on me. But for now,
I must resign myself to the doctor writing hirsute on my chart,
and delicately inquiring if I’d considered having hormonal testing done.
Every other month, my hairbrush breaks in half,
bristles snagged, half-swallowed by the frizzy undergrowth
of my scalp. I get exactly one use out of each Lady Bic,
(one per leg, that is) and I buy an extra-strength hair catcher
for my shower drain. I am reduced to parlor tricks in which
I make shampoo disappear at a frankly alarming rate.
I comb my tresses down over my face, don a pair of shades,
and behold: my best Cousin It impression. Everything in me
shrieks abundance to a world that hears only excess,
and the feeling is mutual. I refuse to strip down
to oozing nicks and razor burn. I refuse to be
scorched earth beneath a wax-and-depilatories campaign.
I am Diana, the wolves and the glade. Track me
through the wilderness. Wherever I roam, you’ll find
my fleece caught on brambles. I am the invasive kudzu,
the crabgrass. Try to trim me and I just grow back.
High Water Lines
That spring of ‘51, one of the
Wyandotte chicks took a shine to me.
More than a shine. It thought
I was its mama, tagging along at my heels
as I went about my chores, fluttering
its stubby little gray wings and cheeping
for my attention. I tried to shoo it away
like a biting fly. I was nine years old
and had no patience for such things.
Besides, I knew where my chicken
and dumplings came from. If I
was in the tire swing, it tried to keep up
as I swayed to and fro. When I came home
from school, it would be waiting at the gate.
Then the rains came. It flooded
from Manhattan all the way to St. Charles,
from Platte County down to Neosho.
By July, two million acres underwater.
I remember sitting in our living room
in a rowboat. I remember worrying so
about that little chick.
Of course, it got swept away,
as most of our animals did.
By fall, everything was silt and mud,
splinters and carcasses. The slain fields
would have to be resurrected.
The barn and the chicken coop
would have to be rebuilt, new calves
and hatchlings brought to fill them.
I would resume classes and chores,
reborn as someone who cares
about tiny lives and large adoration.
Goats lock horns on the ghat,
One light, one dark.
I like to think they’re dueling for the fate of the world,
But the truth is, they care nothing for our sacred space,
The tourist boats scudding along the water.
They know only the musk of their opponent,
That one will come off the victor and go
In search of grass.
About Lauren Scharhag
Lauren Scharhag is an award-winning writer of fiction and poetry. She is the author of Under Julia, The Ice Dragon, The Winter Prince, West Side Girl & Other Poems, and the co-author of The Order of the Four Sons series. Her poems and short stories have appeared in over sixty journals and anthologies, including trampset, Whale Road Review, The Flint Hills Review, Io Literary Journal, Gambling the Aisle, and Sheila-Na-Gig. She lives on Florida’s Emerald Coast. To learn more about her work, visit: www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com