December 6, 2016

Heather Bell

HAIRCUT

and it is morning. You start with the scissors
pressed to your jaw. It is like there are 
thousands of tourists falling from your head 
to the floor. By afternoon, one cigarette and 
a baby diapered five times, you have 
neatened up your eyebrows, waxing them 

thinner and thinner until you are feeling 
bottomless like the way space seems 
to be in the movies, like Heaven, each 
planet retracting away from us like 

tongues. By 4 p.m., you start rushing, your 
husband will be home soon and he 
disapproves of things like this: the rough
angle of hairs at your ears, seeming 
bitten by weird hybrid animals. Every hair

is short enough now. You get the razor.
There is something primal about it: woman 
at mirror with weapon. A half an hour goes 
by, you’re digging at the scalp: the 
clutter there, the coats that have been hung,
heavy with rain, for years. It is never enough 

to say I wasn’t ready for a baby, or you.
You need to show the teeth marks around 
your hairline: you were dragged here in the 
mouth of something big and wild. And it is dark 
out now, your hairless head is a heron or red 
moon. You hand your husband that which 

you have removed, like a murmur. And it is dark, 
the baby is weeping like a sad old woman 
seated in the other room

from Kill the Dogs
2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize Selection

[download audio]

__________

Heather Bell: “Once upon a time there was a six-foot-tall woman with blue hair and a sense of smallness. In her house was a teacup saying ‘girl, you got this!’ and on her wall was a kitten hanging from a clothesline. The kitten’s word balloon said something like, ‘Hang in there!’ or ‘Don’t let go!’ Always something with an exclamation mark. Isn’t that the moral of the story, always? There is always a small woman, hiding her grandness, trying to fill up on uplifting wordplay. But today, this small woman sits down and writes a poem in which she details her smallness and why she came to be that way. Another small woman reads it, and from the tip of her hair a fire starts, but just as quickly dies. Isn’t that why we are here? To write another poem for a small woman to read, and then another. Until the amount of sparks are too much for the quick extinguishing, and she is a woman on fire, exploding into the world.”