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  • Writer's pictureJan Avellana


today i brushed a girl’s

headful of knotted hair

her pigtails were askew

did daddy do your hair this morning or did you i asked

(because mom is no more)

i did it she said

come here i said

bring your brush

and she did

and i brushed her hair and talked with her

in the middle of class

during the morning chaos

and other little girls looked at us and wanted me to brush them out too

but you have mommies i wanted to tell them

i’m not brushing hair i wanted to say

or making perfect pigtails

i am trying trying to mother her

to say i’m so sorry sorry sorry your momma is gone forever

brush brush brush

here is a bandaid for your gushing wound

but here are hair elastics instead of a tourniquet

i tied looped them over and over and over again just so

and i stroked her head and hugged her

and i don’t know if she felt anything or if i’m making a difference

(am i)

but what else do you do when you see a headful of matted hair

and two ponytails askew

-j. avellana hongo


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