this is the hair on the salon floor. the salon named after a famous comic strip character, after a song. i can't remember which. but the hair, the curls and clumps of old hair prompt the memory. of loss. of shame. of failed defiance against the blade. i tilt my head and hear the voices starting up inside the threads and strands. not 'the chipmunks' or even the mermaids singing. it's a singing in an untranslatable dialect that goes straight to the heart. i rush to grab the hair in great bundles into my arms, like sudden sheaves of wheat, like those loaves and fishes, like clouds that have suddenly fallen from the sky on the world's last saturday.
from kept busy (River Road Press, 2008), © joanne burns 2008, used by permission of the author and River Road Press