Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.


MY NEW AUTHOR'S SITE, KATHRYNSTRIPLINGBYER.COM, THAT I MYSELF SET UP THROUGH WEEBLY.COM, IS NOW UP. I HAD FUN CREATING THIS SITE AND WOULD RECOMMEND WEEBLY.COM TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN SETTING UP A WEBSITE. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT MY NEW SITE TO KEEP UP WITH EVENTS RELATED TO MY NEW BOOK.


MY NC POET LAUREATE BLOG, MY LAUREATE'S LASSO, WILL REMAIN UP AS AN ARCHIVE OF NC POETS, GRADES K-INFINITY! I INVITE YOU TO VISIT WHEN YOU FEEL THE NEED TO READ SOME GOOD POEMS.

VISIT MY NEW BLOG, MOUNTAIN WOMAN, WHERE YOU WILL FIND UPDATES ON WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MY KITCHEN, IN THE ENVIRONMENT, IN MY IMAGINATION, IN MY GARDEN, AND AMONG MY MOUNTAIN WOMEN FRIENDS.




Sunday, November 13, 2011

CHAIRS


Chairs, from Magpie Tales



My grandmother had long chestnut-colored hair, or so I've been told, and her photosgraphs in her youth show a woman with thick hair piled atop her head.  In her later years, she dyed her hair red.  She had married a man much older than she, and after his death she married again.  She did not have the luxury of musical chairs during those difficult years of the Great Depression.  I wonder if she ever looked back at the ones she might have chosen.



CHAIRS

Because she died shorn
of her crimped, hennaed glory
called shameless for 
someone her age, I hate short hair 
that clings to the skull
and risks nothing.  Her fiery

profusion I like to imagine as flaring
out into the sickroom to shock,
to accuse:  all she might have become
had she not said “I do” and sat down 
in that chair when he pulled it out, 
scraping the floor,

making idle talk stop for an instant.
the old women frown when 
she whispered I must have this,
canna lily she plucked from the vase
on the table to pin at the nape 
of her barely contained bun, 
what she called a chignon. 

The other chairs she might have
chosen,  did she reminisce as she
wandered away from them into
 the mirrors of middle-age?  Goaded
by what she saw,  she dyed her gray back
to flaming rebellion they cut off
the last day she lived, for the sake
of what family called Visitation--

the coffin lid opened, no time for
embarrassment.  People might gossip
about her lack of repentance, the devil’s
own red coming loose from the pins.
So she lay  without any complaint, 
as I too have sat cowed in the stylist’s chair 
watching  my dishwater blonde hair
descending around me like chaff.
       

   



19 comments:

Vicki Lane said...

I LOVE this, Kay! And I wish you'd do a whole book's worth of poems about this interesting lady.

Tess Kincaid said...

Oh I love this, Kay...it makes me want to dye my hear fire engine red right now...powerful write...

Templeton's fury said...

thanks for sharing. such strength.

veworley said...

Lovely poem. My grandmother had waist length black hair that she braided every night...until one night when a naughty son slipped up from behind with a pair of sharp scissors and snicker-snack! one of them fell to the floor. My grandfather blamed her and was furious. From then on she wore it short and permed and silver grey.

Thank you. The chairs not chosen...powerful.

Anonymous said...

My grandma had long grey hair she put in a French twist. She would never cut it because her daddy loved her hair, which had been blond in her youth. women and hair!
love that poem!

Martin said...

Extremely good poem, Kay. "...flaring
out into the sickroom to shock,
to accuse..." made an impact.

somewhereamelody said...

She sounds like such wonderful lady!
This was magnificent!

R. Burnett Baker said...

this is simply perfect! My grandmother died at 92 and in youth had red hair. She kept it red till the day she died. It's as if keeping the red hair was her way of holding on to whatever part of youth and pst she could, chairs be damned!

I've never thought about her that way until your poem. Thank you!

Rick

Mama Zen said...

What a gorgeous piece!

Brian Miller said...

ah what a character...some really powerful lines in there...my grandmother keeps much of her independence...she just turned 85 last week...

Tumblewords: said...

A wonderful look at the chairs we could have chosen. Delightful and pensive read.

Ann Grenier said...

A beautiful poem. It reminds me of a woman I knew years ago, also a fiery redhead.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thank you so much, Vicki, tess, Templeton's fury, everyone! I'll be away until next Tuesday but will resume blogs and hope you all have a lovely Novemberish week.

Lyn said...

The women of that era were limitless, but they didn't know it..yes to red hair! Yes to brazen old women who drive us nuts! My Gran was a natural redhead, a fury from the beginning!!

ds said...

What a grand and wonderful woman! Thank you for sharing her, and please do give us more.

Julia Nunnally Duncan said...

What a testimony to the importance of hair, a personal fixation of mine. A great story!

Morning said...

very enjoyable one.

Peachy said...

I just found your page. Stunningly beautiful poem and it reminds me why our hair is considered our glory.

Glenda C. Beall said...

I'm late reading some blogs, but I am glad I checked in here tonight. I do love this poem. Hair is of such importance to most females. At least it was in our family. My octogenarian sister will not fail to get her hair fixed once a week although she is in a wheelchair and often ill. I understand. It makes her feel better.