I get off the IRT in front of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture after riding an early
Amtrak from Philly to get a hair cut at what used to be the Harlem "Y" barbershop. It gets me in at ten to
ten. Waiting, I eat fish cakes at the Pam Pam and listen to the ladies call out orders: bacon-biscuit twice,
scrambled scrambled fried, over easy, grits, country sausage on the side. Hugh is late. He shampoos me,
says "I can't remember, Girlfriend, are you tender-headed?" From the chair I notice the mural behind me
in the mirror. I know those overlapped sepia shadows, a Renaissance rainforest, Aaron Douglas! Hugh tells
me he didn't use primer and the chlorine eats the colors every day. He clips and combs and I tell him how
my favorite Douglas is called "Building More Stately Mansions," and he tells me how fly I'd look in a Salt 'n'
Pepa 'do, how he trained in Japan.
Clip clip, clip clip. I imagine a whoosh each time my hair lands on the floor and the noises of small brown
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem