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Some days her mind begins to reappear.
Today you feel her halting fingers trace,
along your skull, the curls she used to fear,
although she raised you in a gentler place
than where her classmates called her “kinky head”
or worse. She thinks she’s cringing by her locker,
until she sees you there. “Sorry I said
those things,” she whispers. Late regrets unblock her.

When you were sixteen, she was being kind,
searing your scalp with chemicals to free
you of the curls she gave you. In her mind
the only truth out there was cruelty.

Here, now, she loves your hair. Grasping your brush,
she soothes you, coaxes you. Don’t question. Hush.