long ago
when i was a child
i watched through a half-closed door
a woman shed her shimmering hair
like she was shedding her skin

she sheared it off
one lock after the other
and tossed it with lyrical abandon
while her daughter
a girl with conservative curls
pled with her to stop stop stop!

but there was no stopping her
and poor child
unable to bear much more
switched her gaze to the wall
stared at her reflection
in an age-spotted mirror
and wept ever so bitterly
while her mother cackled grotesquely

my ears will never forget that sound
my eyes are branded forever
with the little girl’s tears
so black with longing
so choked with desire
so rabid with regret

but, today
as i remember this
so many years later
i ask myself
(because i must)
the meaning of
this memory

i ask myself
why this?
why now?
while fearing instinctively
that i will never understand