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Hairless

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Can the bald lie? The nature of the skin says not:
it's newborn-pale, erection-tender stuff,
every thought visible,—pure knowledge,
mind in action—shining through the skull.
I saw one, a woman, hairless absolute, cleaning.
She mopped the green floor, dusted bookshelves,
all cloth and concentration, Queen of the moon.
You can tell, with the bald, that the air
speaks to them differently, touches their heads
with exquisite expression. As she danced
her laundry dance with the motes, everything
she ever knew skittered under her scalp.
It was clear just from the texture of her head,
she was about to raise her arms to the sky;
I covered my ears as she prepared to sing, roar,
to let the big win resonate in the little room.

Source: Poetry (Poetry)
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Hairless

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  • Jo Shapcott was born in London, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and later won a Harkness Fellowship to Harvard University. She is the author of ten books of poetry, including Of Mutability (2010), winner of the Costa Book Award; My Life Asleep (1999), winner of the Foreward Poetry Prize; Phrase Book (1992); and Electroplating the Baby (1988), winner of the Commonwealth Prize. She is twice a winner of the National Poetry Competition, and in 2011 she received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

    Using a precise, colloquial diction, Shapcott draws her subjects and imagery from unusual sources, including popular culture and the sciences. She excels in narrative forms, often written from a displaced, oblique but controlled point of view and employing a surreal wit with which to explore the balances of sexual, political, or human versus animal power.

    The title poem of Phrase Book is notable for its...

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