“Pictures of Ourselves at Twenty-One” by Maryann Corbett

Maryann Corbett


a meditation on the current Facebook meme

Those were the days we had amazing hair.
And bodies. And ambitions. Chutzpah, too.
“Look on our manes, ye mighty, and despair!”
we cry, smirking disdain like Baudelaire
from yearbook-picture ranks and files. We grew
it lush, that long-ago amazing hair,
while choruses wailed Gimme down to there
hair! Though in our hippie hearts we knew
we’d have to tame it someday soon, despair
spared us. In shoulder pads, Dynasty flair,
the Farrah Fawcett shag, the Rachel do,
we offered up our still-abundant hair
to workdays. To quotidian wear and tear,
crimpers and curling irons, styling goo.
And then one day the mirror sighed: Despair.
Are these our offspring, whose inventions blare
from TikTok posts in floof and curlicue,
strange new explosions of amazing hair
half-shaved, half rainbow striped? (Try not to stare,
though they return your gawk, peering straight through
your brow lines, fashion failures, gray despair …)
Who were we? Do we remember? Do we care,
you with your naked pate, I with my two-
toned thatch? Is time the low road to despair?
Look at us, though: we had amazing hair.

from Poets Respond
February 11, 2024


Maryann Corbett: “Although this ‘event’ has not been the subject of any story in the mainstream media, most of us have seen it happening: on Facebook, people are posting pictures of themselves at age 21. We can’t seem to resist it. I decided to write a poem instead.” (web)

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