I have my father’s hair. Not much of a gift,
chick, but can’t say I’m not generous.
Thick cloud blasting out of my head,
fat as baleen. The word, his tongue slugs
against the roof of his mouth, is adsorbant,
and he insists on the prefix in a coda of clicks:
ad- ad- ad’yer see? like a whale, spearing
its noise into the dark. Grows like bone,
does hair, strengthens against stress, all our
violences legible in horn, hoof, feather,
the warm ocher of his thumbnail as he turns
the beak over. I am naked, watching the plug
braid a borehole, my fragrant grief: tobacco, lanolin,
bacon spit, grease. And he is starting to plait my wet hair,
passing forward fresh streams to dark slick
over my shoulders and asking me to guess the weight
of disaster. Absently, I count a kink from flu, a thickening
for love, golden crown and here, at the root, a length of gray.
You tell by the color of the waves, he shrugs, walks
to his bookshelf on the landing, holds out a finger, divines
red, black, hardback, glaucous, yellow spine torn, a gap:
here, between books, he leaves the kittiwake beak
after dabbing it like a glass pipette at my cheek.
Abacinate. Abscess. Abyss. Ab ovo. At Macondo, he reads
people sent sponges, lambs’ wool, soil, books, anything
at all bibulous to save them. In the end, they shaved
the little girls, bagged their hair to make a gluey boom,
suck it up, the spoils. He starts to towel me down, tells me
that’s what happens to naughty children, guides my feet
into my socks and the kittiwake beak, his grim memento,
watches through nostrils, observes our wincing fractures.
My hair dries, keratin core still recording a damaged archive
of him, katabatic debris, red algae, bad blood cut
in cross sections of arctic ice. But they didn’t
use any of it. They used their own ends to end the spill:
propylene sacks sent to drink its own kin. Ad absurdum. Ad fin.
Ad creep. Adagio. Adam. I asked him what happened to all the hair,
but he said that’s not the point of the story.