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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hair (by Mark Doty)

In a scene in the film
shot at Bergen-Belsen days after
the liberation of the camp
a woman brushes her hair.

Though her gesture is effortless
it seems also for the first time
as if she has just remembered
that she has long hair,

that it is a pleasure
to brush, and that pleasure
is possible. And the mirror
beside which the camera must be rolling,

the combing out and tying back
of the hair, all possible.
She wears a new black sweater
The relief workers have brought,

Clothes to replace the body’s
visible hungers. Perhaps
she is a little shy of the camera,
or else she is distracted

by the new wool and plain wonder
of the hairbrush, because
on her face is a sort of dulled,
dreamy look, as if part

of hersef that recognizes
the simple familiar good of brushing
is floating back into her
the way the spiritualists say

the etheric body returns to us
when we wake from sleep’s long travel.
With each stroke she restores
something of herself, and one

at a time the arms and hands
and face remember, the scalp
remembers that her hair
is a part of her, her own.


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