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I was brought up in a kitchen

with a towel around my neck

and a hot comb hissing

 

I was born

half past a yellow bone

with fine tooth combs that broke upon third use

 

I was born with beadies at the back of my neck

brushed quickly in the morning

 

I was born South Carolina dry

something like twine and cotton

in my grandmother’s hands

 

I was taught with beeswax and Pro style gel stored in my sister’s backpack

 

I was born natural

 

permed for one summer

thick strands strung out on chlorine

in Oakland swimming pools

crying for the thick to come back

 

and it did

in between press and curls sweating out

and the boys who liked the long-haired girls

 

I was born with people in my hair

in my ear

wishing it shine,

wishing it sheen and straight

I was born wirey-hot headed dirty brown-haired girl

and brittle without oil

twisted in the morning

and touched by white women for luck

 

I was born light and nappy

I was born not knowing this hair

and handing it to someone else

 

I was born with afro puffs

and camp counselors who said they were ugly

 

I was born Louisiana dry spice

and daddy’s Nature’s Blessings to soften my edges

 

I was born with bad ends and rope twists

I was born with a blow dryer busting on the floor

 

I was born of a silver-haired Virgo and a balding Gemini in a suit

and hair that wouldn’t obey a rubber band

 

I am in the bathroom combing for hours in heat

a thick universe of coils that grows from me and down my back

laughing

 

I was born with Lusters pink lotion and the burn of spray on my scalp

I was born with straight parts down the middle

and beads with foil on my braids

 

I was born natural

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