$ 9.99 for a box of cherry bombshell hair color
and grandma waits for the tick
of my heels up the walk with fuzzy moss
growing in the cracks, demands I turn up the radio,
before the slam of the door.
It’s her hunger for a constant drowning
of ordinary sounds, the rasping dishwasher,
the murmuring fridge, and don’t ask the name
of the song. She doesn’t know. She does know
I come, every six to eight weeks to retouch her roots,
to ask about the other him, the one she didn’t marry
because he left his legs on a cobblestone street
in France, the one who wrote the letter that said:
“You can not marry me. I am not whole.”
She loosens herself from the overstuffed loveseat,
carps about a six day nausea, while I slither
into rubber gloves, shake the developer,
the color flaring into a dark liquid flame
that douses each strand of her scalp and we wait.
She says “ I hear my dead husband speak to me
and felt his presence and his hand on my shoulder.”
She writes his words, then reads them
to me as if she had not written them,
twists a corner of his camouflaged blanket from the war.
But when I ask about the other him, she wills
not to remember, curses the asbestos from the shipyard,
while a cough cajoles her right and left lung,
complains her scalp is burning. The rinse is over
when the water runs clear. I search for some history
written in her hair, crayon red and frazzled,
in the grey she is trying to cover up.