with grief you were, though only four,
day your mother cut her mermaid hair
stood, a stranger, smiling at the door.
frowned, tsk-tsked your willful, cruel despair,
you slunk beneath the long piano strings
sobbed until your lungs hiccupped for air,
with curses, cake, playthings.
mourned a mother now herself no more,
brave and fashionable. The golden rings
fringed her naked neck, whom were they for?
you, but for the world, now in your place,
full eclipse. You wept down on the floor;
wept up in her room. They told you this:
she could grow it back, and just as long,
told you, lying always about loss,
you know she never did. And they were
© Alicia E. Stallings. From Archaic Smile,
Evansville Press; originally printed in the Formalist;
by permission of the author.