Delisa Mulkey

A Microcosm of the Human Condition



Girls with straight hair always wish
they had curls, while the girls that already
have them will find some chemical
or heat-induced solution to the problem.
You'd think the girl with waves
would have it made. But you'd be wrong.
We are, after all, talking about the human
condition, where a man's baldness
can indicate virile testosterone levels
and a girl with wavy hair might,
for no apparent reason, start pulling out
her hair one strand at a time. Hallopeau
named it trichotillomania. Sometimes
it takes a Frenchman who's not afraid
of Latin to see our urges, our compulsions,
and to label them for us. Otherwise, we end up
with names that state too directly our illness,
like Body Integrity Identity Disorder
for those who request elective amputation
and finally end up taking dry ice and a hacksaw
into their own hands because they see
the necessity of empty spaces
and crave the absence of their limbs.
And what else do we all want except mystery
and meaning? Oh, but a meaning implied,
mysteriously rendered in a dead language
that remains our truest because no one speaks it,
a beautiful language that allows the girl
to continue throughout her life, hair by hair,
constructing a straw man of herself--
one with shiny red hair--until her own
only grows back coarse and white.