My Motherís Hair

She lies in a hospice bed, 
her hair spilled out around her head,
longer than I ever remembered, so white 
it looks blue in the afternoon sunlight
pouring through the windows, glistening.

My daughter applies a damp sponge 
to the cracked lips and tongue, 
raises the head so the lush 
hair leaps to the waiting brush,
relates all the dayís events 
in a voice of great intensity,
just in case Mom is listening.

After a while, my grand-daughter, a nurse, 
takes over, expertly pulls and smooths,
every stroke well-practiced and rehearsed;
this is not the first dying woman she has soothed. 
      
My mother went to the beauty salon each week, 
her hair a sea of lacquered wave and frozen curl,
but now it looks so soft along her cheeks
I could bury my young boyís face in its carefree swirl.

My great-granddaughter, age four, as though death is 
commonplace,
leans to kiss my motherís face 
with deep concern.
I lean toward the bed and hear soft singing, a lullaby,
and I resist the urge to cry 
as I await my turn. 

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