never removed her clothes in the light


posed for the flash

glaring at all the lines

shaping her make

she never

showed you the way in

to the deepest part

nor left behind a key

beneath the mat


kept herself tightly wound

measuring time in metronome

within a book within a comb within

a ball of yarn

played with but never



didn’t tell you the truth when you asked her

to reveal secrets

she told you of the stars and moon sprung apart in divinity

and let you believe

she’d told you who

she was

and when

you saw her cut her hair

scythe slicing history in swath

long tresses falling like fingers down a drain

following the passage of tears and footsteps

taken to stand here

you asked her


and she looked at you

with her shorn face and her

sharp eyes smudged with doubt

and said

didn’t you see my nudity?

didn’t you see me crying?

behind my hair all these years?

72 thoughts on “Nude

  1. Powerful and sad. The shorn hair like a nun, penitent, or the female collaborators whose heads were shaved, or removing signs of beauty–or all of these?

  2. Seeing people for whom they really are….most of the time, society doesn’t bother. It’s the first impression that often times matters and if not good enough, on to the next person. And then we wonder why there are so many lonely people. Heart touching and sad too. Thank you.

  3. Gosh and I didn’t think of that comparison but that’s a perfect comparison! I wish I could pretend that was my intentional all along! As that would be so clever, the whole shaved heads of penitence. Excellent. Oh you are also right, in all major religions, including mine, Judaism (I’m not practicing) women would wear a wig to cover their crown of glory and hair was almost a fetish. Fascinating.

  4. I think it was in my head because I was watching, “Call the Midwife” the other night. One of the midwives, who is a nun, was in a mental hospital. Her head wasn’t shaved, but she wore a cap over her head, and I had never realized how small she is physically, which is emphasized by the character’s fragile condition. (And also in my head because penitent from my visiting the old penitentiary.)

  5. A great show. They do it so well, recreating the unique experiences of women in that era. I watched upon recommendation last night, Audrey & Daisy (Netflix & also youtube) have you seen that? I had seen The Hunting Ground but not this documentary, I found it powerful. I absolutely agree about the shedding of hair and what it reveals, on a much lesser scale, I fear cutting mine for similar reasons of control, or maybe I’m just not a beauty-shop kinda gal! (Penitentiaries always shaved the heads didn’t they, do they still?)

  6. Oh, no I haven’t seen Audrie and Daisy. Thank you–something to put in my list of resources.
    Gosh–I don’t know about shaving the heads. I suppose some prisons in some places in the world do it. I think in the past, a lot of prisons, orphanages, etc. did it to control the spread of lice and typhus.

  7. There is so much symbolism in cutting the hair. Whether done deliberately or forcibly, cutting the hair just as much as shaving the head is a gesture—self-destruction?

  8. That ending was tugging at my heart. So much emotion and vulnerability expressed so well.
    I love the way you write
    I wish I could write poetry the way you do. All I can do is write songs and sayings,
    This was touching truly powerful

  9. You are an excellent writer! We all write differently but don’t ever get the idea your writing is exceptional – thank you though 😉 PS there’s power in sayings and songs btw big time. But I’ve read your poetry as well so that’s not all you can write!

  10. Right? I often wonder. For example when a woman loses her hair to hair-loss/disease or chemo. How does she really feel? How does her husband really feel? Hair so tied to our identity as women. Yet for men so not important on themselves. Another example of a double standard?

  11. Sweet of of you to say. I appreciate it , but this piece really shows that you are poetry’s muse

  12. It goes back a long way, women having long hair, their ‘crowning glory’ keeping it hidden, or decorating it with combs and jewels depending on the culture. Shaving a collabo’s head (men didn’t have their heads shaved) as sign of shame. Long hair is associated with femininity, just woe betide the woman who has hair other than on her scalp!

  13. I confess I had never heard of it. But I gave it a watch as I appreciate the education and subject. Whilst not as ‘good’ as Hunting Ground perhaps, it was VERY good and I’m glad I watched it, so I hope you will and LMK if you do and what you thought? Your book has proven a great resource, I’m reading five books more-or-less on this subject thanks to you kicking it off with yours! Oh, and another book I’m sure you have read but if it missed you – definitely read – the 19th Wife. Superb.

  14. So true! So many British men seem to bald early, of any background makes me wonder if there is something in the water! Yes, shame, very true, absurd really as a woman is a woman, bald, or long tressed. I feel if I stood by my principles more I’d cut mine off! But then I’d look like a young boy, NOT a good thing 😉 Interesting. Makes me want to read more about this and write more on this. People I know get extensions that seems really whacky as it pulls and hurts and is very expensive.

  15. You’re welcome,
    Virgos are modest. One day I might know how good my talent is. But, for now I will just be amazed by you

  16. I hadn’t realised balding was a British thing. Maybe the tea? I don’t understand the extension thing either. Like why African women spend hours tying false tresses onto their scalps. If it’s an African characteristic not to grow long hair that you can plait, why is it a ‘tradition’ to add long plaits to your head?

  17. This piece is beautiful but sad. Not that that is a bad thing. You’re pieces always seem to have this stunning quality and I admire you for that. I’ve nominated you for the Mystery Blogger Award. I am not asking that you get involved, unless you want to, but at least this way I can share your blog.

  18. Hmmm this is only tangentially related but it interesting that even for men shaving the head is often a sign of conversion. In Apuleius The Golden Ass he is saved and has a marvellous conversion scene with Isis and when he returns to civilisation he shaves his head and becomes a priest (and a lawyer, you could have to both ways in Rome). Nearer our day both Aleistair Crowley and Anton LeVey spotted a demonic looking shaven look as well as, though he was not an occultist Michel Foucault. Now I know it has different symbolism for women, but interesting nevertheless. Sorry I have completely lost the thread, excellently written and thought provoked poem Feather.

  19. I know you’re gonna think this weird (but then that’s me all over) – this poem took me straight to a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that’s been running in our paper here for a few days. Tiger is cutting his hair, Calvin is panicking ‘cos he can’t see what Tiger is doing. And Tiger won’t tell him because he has accidentally cut huge chunks from the back! I looove Calvin – he’s so irresistibably irreverent, cute and bad ass. But I digress – the poem was awesome 🙂

  20. Heck sister I’m weird so I like weird. Do I think it’s weird? YES! ha ha ha ha! But you have a brain like mine, it spams all over the place and comes up RANDOM a lot of the time which is brilliant! A sign of creativity surely? (yes!) I know that cartoon thankfully so was able to ‘get’ it! ha ha ha! Irreverent is good sometimes!

  21. The things you know. I just love that. Interesting how hair and priesthood both genders stands throughout time, same with the red mary’s wasn’t it? No you didn’t lose the thread. It’s all about perception which is what you always point to with your art, and that’s true here as well.

  22. Ummm I must ask what red Mary’s is as it is a term I am unfamiliar with… I am glad you can follow my thread because I usually can’t.

  23. I read about it, a Mary cult during the time of Jesus, defined by the wearing of red hair scarfs and the name Mary, sort of priestesses. Questions over who Jesuses three Mary’s were and if they were part of this.

  24. Incredibly hidden words that build a sordid story that is always awesome!

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