A Short History of My Long Hair

by Peggy Landsman

Now, well past the Orwellian year,
I remember how slowly I walked that final week of ’83,
Mulling things over, counting days down…
Worrying where my long brown hair had grown to,
Remembering when it tickled my ears and everything I heard was new.

When it hit my shoulders,
Vietnam and Johnson entered my vocabulary.

Now, well past that Orwellian date,
My long hair is still blowin’ in the wind, is still straight—
Somewhat ragged at the edges.

My long hair is a fire hazard.
My long hair tangles hopelessly when I’m knotted up helplessly.
My long hair is always getting caught in things.
My long hair is provocative:

I remember when it kissed my nipples and a cop pulled it.
He was blocking me from breaking through the police blockade
Set up to block us from protesting the blockade of Haiphong Harbor.
We had to do something. We thought it was the beginning
Of the war to end our world. Nixon was going to be re-elected.

But that was in 1972.

I have a split end for every crisis,
For every threatened holocaust since then.
I have a split end for every broken promise,
For every endangered species,
For every innocent victim.

I should take better care of my hair.

But look how long it’s grown! Most of it has made it past my waist.
If it doesn’t fall out because it turns out
The whole world’s been turned into a too-toxic dump
And I’ve been living here too long,
I may get to wash it and rinse it well into this twenty-first century.

I may wind up rocking in an old rocking chair,
I may wind up rolling in a ten-speed wheelchair…
An old old woman with long white hair.