Monday, May 20, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: HAIR

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

In February: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.
March: divorce, door, dream, emergency room, envelope, eyebrows, first apartment, first job, food, game, garden.

April: I took a break to focus on ARTSPEAK: Happy!

Here are the prompts for May: gloves, great-grandparent, guidebook, gun, gym class, hair, hands, hat, high heels, honeymoon, hood.


So... I've kind of already written about hair in CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? Here's the "hair" spread... my poem is 100% autobiographical:

poem by Irene Latham (L), poem by Charles Waters (R)
illustrations by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko


Now my hair 
is long and straight -
 a curtain I can hide

But once
when I was little
I begged
for an Afro,

so Mama cut
my hair short 
as a boy's
and gave me
a perm.

I fluffed it
with a pick
big as 
it would go -- 

until my brothers
called me 
a circus clown,

without the red nose.

- Irene Latham

Other hair memories include the horrible awful hair cut I got in Ninth Grade... I asked for a "Tenille," which is kind of a long bowl-cut, after Toni Tenille. It was the end of the day, and the hairdresser did not seem to get the "long" part, and I ended up with a hairut that made me cry! From that day forward I have worn my hair long -- I was not ME with that short 'do! I do admire people who easily morph their hair from one style to (long) hair truly is part of my identity.

Another memory, not about my hair, but my brother Ken's: for a while Ken, who's just 17 months older than me, wore a rat tail. Ken was often a thorn in my side (and everyone else's too!). His worst offenses were the way he stole each and every one of my best girlfriends... yep, they all ended up dating, or MARRYING Ken! Such treachery! Anyhow, once when he'd just stolen yet another of my friends, I got my revenge: in the middle of the night I crept into his room while he was sleeping, and CUT OFF HIS RAT TAIL.

I know! Terrible, isn't it??! Just shows you how BIG those childhood emotions can be... 


1 comment:

  1. Oh my, I forgot about the Tennille rage. I change my hair all the time, so when I get tired of it, I do something else. I remember my daughter wanted a 'twisty' perm in her long hair. At the hairdresser's I could tell she was not liking what was happening one bit. She cried for the rest of the day! You were awful to cut your brother's rattail, but perhaps he got the point? Have a great day, Irene!


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