Split Ends

I went to the hair salon

They told me my hair was so healthy

No split ends!

Really well taken care of.

I went to the dentist

“You have beautiful teeth,” said the hygienist.

“Keep up the great work!” said my (female, notably) dentist

as she scraped at my $3-grand pearly whites

for 8.2 seconds.

I went to a Pure Barre class for the first time in 5 years

I was nervous

It’s a hard class

I was never able to hold the 90-second plank.

The instructor said “Great job, Madeline!”

            into her microphone headset thing

            in the middle of the abs round,

            interrupting a Sia remix.

At the end of class she looked at me quizzically

“Was I doing the tuck thing right?”

A shifty glance away, then:

“Yeah, I mean you were perfect!”

(For the last 4 months I’ve been lying in bed

interspersed by long walks in the neighborhood

of my parents’ new house

–  they sold my childhood home after

I moved across an ocean –

one day all I could do was lay down

face flat

into the grass

and stretch my arms

into the earth

grasping at the green blades

feeling the Southern sun on my limbs

hoping the warmth

would eventually

creep up to my heart

clutching the dirt

begging

please don’t leave me behind)

I sighed.

Licked my lips.

Flashed my great-work smile

“Thanks!”

I wish I knew how to let it all

fall to pieces.

How does one live life

so as to get split ends?

Not panic

when they can’t hold a side plank

not measure their worth

by their ability to fit both carpe-dieming

and tidying up

into a Sunday afternoon schedule?

At the salon

the young blonde 20-something

cutting my hair

said I was so brave

I wanted bangs but not bangs

didn’t really care

(A week before my face was pressed

against the carpet

tears dried in a little matted spot

my stomach engulfed the rest of my body

until I felt like I wanted life itself to

just swallow me whole –

the carpet left funny marks on my face

– I wondered if the Sainsburys security guard noticed?

Probably not.)

“Well, its just hair.”

What does release feel like?

Is it like that spot just so in the lake

when you pencil dive really deep

and at first its thrilling

but then kind of terrifying

because you start to actually wonder

if you are going to lose all the air

before you make it back up to the top?

I guess what I’m saying is,

once I memorized the whole prologue

to the Canterbury Tales

in Middle English

and recited it in front of my whole class

perfectly

(and honestly I didn’t think it was that hard)

but if you ask me

the last time a friend has called me

I won’t have an answer

because I can’t remember

and if you want to know the last time I wept

I will say

yesterday

as I folded T-shirts in his closet

and found that book on Japan.

So what I’m saying

really

is I wonder if Chaucer

who “found language”

– the life so short,

the crafts so long to learn  –

sighed when the world clapped, too?

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