Murray’s Superior Hair Dressing Pomade

by Jean Cassidy

A friend has given me a tin of wax to spike my hair.
The texture puckers between thumb and forefinger
as I study my close-up in the mirror.
A dip to the brow, a sag to the jaw,
eyes less intense than  thirty years ago,
an age spot above my cheekbone announces itself.

My core queases.
A familiar feeling trickles down
the back of my throat,
fills my chest,
and I understand no one of us
has enough
foundation,
eyeliner,
mascara
or blush,
hairpins,
curlers,
color
or spray
to make a good-enough self.

Perhaps I’ll  return the unused tin with thanks.
Then I’ll look at myself in the mirror
and be welcomed
as though
to a homecoming.

Jean Cassidy was born in Chicago. At seventeen, she entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation, where she received undergraduate degree and graduate degrees, before finishing at the University of Michigan as a clinical social worker and community organizer. Issues of class struggle, racism and sexism in the US and third world countries have been a constant focus throughout her adult life. In 2005, she became the managing editor for Sheville.org.

About Murray’s Superior Hair Dressing Pomade—“Murray’s” emerged after an interaction with a friend. The interchange struck me as funny. I had never had anyone suggest, without my requesting it, something to improve my looks. After sorting through all possible reactions I might have, I decided to land on the benign interpretation of her motivation as one of kindness and sharing on her part. But the incident did make me look in the mirror.

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