Zorina Exie Frey | Poetry
I take my hair down / it doesn’t fall / It’s stubborn like that / insisting to praise the heavens / Every coil spiraled every which way / but down / With enough heat / I pressure it into submission / It used to be / witchcraft of chemicals and creams / hocus-pocusing one week of sheen / before withering away.
It used to be twisties and braids secured with plastics clips / elastics with candied balls at each end / A ritual demanding a sacrifice of tears / Tender-headed girl / Coils tough like sheep’s wool / Momma tugged and pulled / Cupping dead hair from the comb / some of it torn / A scalping of sorts / Blue Magic / Crown Royal / Sulfer 8 / a balm / for coils to glisten / Listen to small sniffles / Pretty sho nuff hurts / Ponytails pulled too tight / edges straight like whites.
Momma did my hair during 60 Minutes with Dan Rather / my father’s favorite show / He’d have no whimpering during this time / There wasn’t such a thing as rewind then / so I swallowed my pain with invisible tears / in order to be pretty / A mental flexing taught early / when it came time to sit / in front of the stove with the metal hot comb’s / smelted sinister teeth / waiting to straighten me up / refine my posture / My attitude / My kitchen / Behind the ears / I stop breathing / controlling my body from the movement of heaving / One small breath can clumsily kiss the comb’s crimson teeth.
It used to be braids with pretty beads / clacking / defeating gravity / I shake my head no / making music with my beaten fro / brushing momma’s knees / She’s not finished yet / My tailbone stabs the pillow / balancing on carpet with no padding / I’m antsy / One more section left / It’s maddening / No cartoons on TV / I wish I brought my Barbie doll / Momma twists my head just so / not allowing the comfort / of imagination / Not until she’s done / until all my beads click-clack
like the beaded drapes separating the living room from the hallway bedrooms / My beads click and clack like morse code / Click-clack like antiquated bells / Click and clack / alerting earth / we made it from the click and clack of rudimentary chains and / neck holds made from the click and clack of iron heart’s click-clacking horsewhips / Click-clack we made it / whipping our hair back and forth / like the cat-o-nine tails scraping down our ancestors’ back / the beads clack down my back / rolling over my shoulders / making people stop and stare / wanting to touch my hair / How you do that there / A ritual taught to temper wild coils springing from wild / dark soil / Wild as in free to click-clack like gazelles hooves / To click-clack like elephant tusks and buffalo horns / strutting like giraffe legs / lion’s majesty / My beads click-clack back like that.
Zorina Exie Frey is a content writer and Pushcart nominee. Her writings are featured in Shondaland, Shoutout Miami, Chicken Soup for the Soul: I’m Speaking Now, and Glassworks Magazine. She is the recipient of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival Langston Hughes Fellow and Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Voices of Color Fellow. Her screenplay, Harley Quinn Origin, received an honorable mention at the Birmingham Film Festival in the UK; she was a semi-finalist in the TV pilot America’s Next Greatest Author and guest co-host for Writing Class Radio Podcast.