Beautiful Life Salon

Lisa Low

While her mother gets cut, Ruby thumbs

          through pages of Asian girls’ haircuts, more Asian

girls than she’s seen in real life, looking back

          at her, half-smiling. Pixies, bobs, bangs sharp as the edge

of a knife, curls the deep dark of trash bags, girls

          with highlights, whose mothers have let bleach

their hair. What if all the other girls at school turned

          Asian overnight? Who would ask her about chopsticks,

who would want a Sharpie-tattoo of a Chinese word?

          Ruby’s turn, the stylist pumps her down,

asks in Chinese what she wants. Her mother says,

          my daughter doesn’t understand, chuckling like it’s

the punchline of a joke. Ruby points to a girl in her lap

          who looks like she’s never laughed before in her life.


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