DENDROCHRONOLOGY OF HAIR

Slung up onto the instrument. All those years 

you thought it was “wavy.” Wet whorl 

of Caribbean and tongue of crazed sunlight. 

Green sigh of New England fingering through. 

A waltz of Romania, hilltop Slovak breeze

praise-songs of your people twisting and twisting.

All those years you thought it deserved to be

pressed against the hot blade. Motion is scratched 

through your crowded wind map. Chime of light, 

leg of insect, cutting and cutting. Time capsule 

of mother. Nail clipping of grandmother. 

Her hands wrung up on the machine

her lungs telling the story of war. 

Breath belaboring breath becomes a bead 

of transmission, from her mouth you are bloomed 

and from her spittle your hair. Passport of: chopped. 

Passport of: grieving. Reverb of blowdry. Echo and echo 

of having been child. The 90’s pour through. The feathers 

don’t stick. All those years you thought thickness 

was its own language foreboding. All those years 

you pinned blonde girls to the altar, drenching in itch. 

The sound of a comb being scratched against longing. 

Wild discoveries, spirals and zephyrs. The grid falls away. 

The labyrinth announces her reign. Passport of: dignity. 

Passport of: strange. And twinkling against 

summer light. Razors past twenty. Some forests within you 

grow deeper while others fall ashen. Suddenly scalp 

is a belonging. Passport of: see me. Passport of: Queer. 

The sound of a butter knife gliding through salt crystals. 

Hands against crown become palm-prints of loving. 

Friendship a language spoken by scissors. Passport of: fur. 

Passport of: mammal. Oil aquifers slicking and slicking 

with beauty. Rain is accomplice. Ocean becomes angel. 

Your dead start referring to you with the nickname 

of longneck, the only place you are tall, the wind 

of the shore of the sea slapping against you 

bare skinned on the bridge between thinking 

and knowing, your mane peeking over the cliff 

of your forehead, getting alive

getting and getting alive. 


Mónica Gomery is a rabbi and poet, raised by her Venezuelan Jewish family
in Boston and Caracas, and now living on Lenni Lenape land in Philadelphia.
Her work explores queerness, diaspora, ancestry, theology, and cultivating
courageous hearts. She is the author of Here is the Night and the Night on
the Road
(Cooper Dillon Books, 2018), and the chapbook Of Darkness and
Tumbling
(YesYes Books, 2017). She is the winner of the 2020 Minola
Review
Poetry Contest, and has been a nominee for Pushcart Prizes and Best
of the Net. Her poetry can be found most recently in Frontier, Foglifter,
Ninth Letter, Interim, Southern Indiana Review
, and as a Poetry Foundation
Poem of The Day. Read more at www.monicagomerywriting.com.