In my grandmother’s kitchen my mother told me,
You will never get a boyfriend
with your hair parted down the middle.
Her cigarette burned down as I burned down to a pile
Clearly, naively, innocently, I listened.
I heeded the woman
whose hair was frozen in Aquanet since 1984
that my romantic endeavors were reliant on where my hair
fell from the top of my head
and how delicately my hair sat atop my shoulders
and how I should probably brush out the curls because they look messy
You look messy.
For years, I concerned myself with the aesthetics of my coils
rather than the intention of my character and the intentions that fell
from the bottom of my heart
and how loud my heart beat on my sleeve
and how unimportant my hair was but I could not see —
Could not see past my hair
past what I needed to be for my mother
in order to be loved by another.
That I was raised to be thin
to critique what I was
and not who I am.
To be thin and pretty God forbid I be a fat child and love my middle part —
Because we need to be thin and pretty.
My mother was thin and pretty
And had sky-high hair and box dye status.
As an adult I could be fat and pretty but not pretty fat and ugly
and only after I found someone to love my hair placed delicately to the side
could I be fat and pretty or ugly and thin
because at least I’d be thin.
I could let myself go only after
I placed my intentions and the messy heart on my sleeve
delicately to the side.
I could unravel like my mother did and stand behind the kitchen island
and treat it as a podium and tell my daughter,
You must change before you are loved.
So I walked the line of my middle part of
black and white —
Of judgment —
Of hope someone would fall in love
with my placement and one day I woke up too many years later and realized
This. Was. Dumb.
My hair coils and curls and speaks for itself
and spoke for me before I found my voice.
My body moves and grows and shrinks like my mane
and I am ever-changing
and always speaking.
Some days I may feel thin and pretty
or fat and ugly and now instead of dwelling
I release my hair
I appreciate the entropy
and whoever can love that entropy will love everything
I’ve come to love about me.