Even the Very Hairs on Your Head Are Numbered

Ruth Awad

And when my hair fell in

                unceremonious clumps,

I was not afraid.       I became taller

          than a petty angel.

My baldness stretched       beyond the desert

                and into exile.

I weighed the hairs         of my head         on the king’s scale

      and crowned myself

with fine ornaments.                   I washed my feet

                in forfeit strands

that sang of my unraveling.     I was more

                                valuable than many sparrows.

I took the scales             and divided the hair:

          seven braids like cedar boughs.

My head was heavy     from holding up the sky

                                and all my strength left me.

God used to say that a woman

                      must cover

      her disgraced shaved scalp.       How he would empty

the foreheads of the unworthy, let them wander

          a long time in the shadow of his divine diss.     So I am marked:

My hair was a flock of goats

                  descending Mount Gilead,   and when it parted,

      I was strung

between heaven and earth,     unknowable to even myself.

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