All-day marinade. Mother is home. She’s not boxed in her office, filling out paperwork and typing up excel spreadsheets, hair in a tight bun, lips pursed. I can tell, the musk of the kitchen unfurls, tiptoes up stairs, drifts to sleep against minute nose hairs, which are bound to my skull and send chemical messages to my brain. I can tell. I will find her, bright in the kitchen, awhirl, hummingbird flutter of busy motion, stirring metal pots with a wooden spoon, loose muu-muu dress curling against her ankles as she darts over the tile with coriander and turmeric. I know she’ll wear that sunshine grin, that one which lifts drooping lifeless plants from floor hugging to petal-spread rejoicing. So effective beams this lip-bound stamp that, when exposed to it, droves of men let wedding rings slip from fingers and clink forgotten against polished heels and dirt.
My mother’s hair blooms into jasmine. It’s that scent. You stop your mid-afternoon sojourning to better appreciate that scent, that scent wanders over to your nose, amok, stray of some lady’s garden, sending sweet jasmine signals through axons in your brain. You stop. One foot floats one inch above the sidewalk – so lovely is the scent of jasmine in spring – you stop. You can’t help yourself. My mother’s hair is blooming jasmine. Hair; inextricable from the garden it bends over to tend to, unfastened auburn locks pluck melody from cloudless California sun.
But hair, hair that is always changing colors, the shifting paint pallor of mother’s whirlwind heart. The leaves of fall are pink and my mother’s hair is brown, auburn, black, jet-black, black-purple tinged, then encroaching on crimson-auburn. (No, I didn’t notice, mom. It is always changing, flushing, the tug-of-war dichotomy of your smile-) pollen on a breeze germinates and seeds, recombination, but the same flower.
She is in the doorway now, a plastic CVS bag full of hair dye.
She is in the kitchen, all-day marinade and a florid muu-muu dress.
She is out the door with a stony crisp jacket and a briefcase, hair pulled back, tight. Today, corporate CEO.