Adult chatter about the swallows’ return

to the mission at Capistrano bored me,


and I snuck off to explore the house. The best secrets

were always in bathrooms: an unopened box


of condoms, a nude photo of the hosts

soaking in a tub, and in the long vanity cabinet,


the wife’s wig stands, chestnut bobs resting

on four, a fifth empty. I laughed of course,


when I imagined her naked scalp, never

pausing to ask why the hair had fallen away.


That’s the devil of a kid’s mind: you mock

what you cannot know, laugh at wigs,


at the shame you feel over a baldheaded woman,

laugh at both the body’s devouring long division


and its thinning hope of resolution—that burlesque

of pride she pulled tight over her bare crown


while she sacrificed herself to live.

Iain Haley Pollock is the author of two poetry collections: Ghost, Like a Place, forthcoming from Alice James Book in November 2018, and Spit Back a Boy, winner of the 2010 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. He teaches English at Rye Country Day School in Rye, NY, and poetry at the Solstice MFA Program of Pine Manor College.