Danusha Lameris
Hair of the Dead

The Victorians were known to wear it on brooches,

pinned to the lapels of their dark wool coats.

Or in gold lockets, dangling between their breasts.

 

I keep it in boxes, in plastic bags, in white envelopes.

My brother’s perfect coil. My son’s black strands, silky

as when they first came in, that full head of hair, a surprise

 

on a baby. How common, once, the early death,

a backyard cemetery lined with ornate stones. A child,

gone to scarlet fever, a wife to childbirth, Spanish flu.

 

Longfellow’s wife caught fire, it’s said, sealing

her children’s hair in envelopes, the match she used

to melt the wax, fallen in the folds of her dress.

 

When I was a girl I rode horses without saddles

through the dry hills, clutched them by their manes—

those fine tethers—to hold on.

 

 

 

 

 
Found In Volume 50, No. 01
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Danusha Lameris
About the Author

Danusha Laméris is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House, 2014), which was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the Autumn House Press poetry prize and was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Book Award. Her second book, Bonfire Opera (University of Pittsburgh Press,2020), was the recipient of the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award.