BALDHEADED WOMAN’S BURLESQUE
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.