The Rope of My Hair

 

I never knew where I should be, where I 

was supposed to be, where I was.  

Shuffled along, this house that house, all of my things

fit in one paper sack.  My doll named Diana.  She had black

curly hair and when you tipped her back and forth, blue eyes

opened and clicked shut.

The girl in the fourth house took her 

left her in the street.

 

On my knees in the next house, six times a day. We must have

been filled with evil, how else to explain?  

Voices droning pray for us, pray for us, pray for us.

Sent to the movies to get

me out of the house, I stayed till midnight, long as

I possibly could.  When they turned off

the lights, I dragged myself “home”.

 

And now?

I still don’t know. 

I am lush, I am huge, I’m your wet dream,

you beat off to me every night.

On that huge screen, my hair my laugh my breasts 

my ass fill it, 

shiny pink satin dress ten feet tall.

You scream at me, blinding lights and red carpets, call my new

name over and over, willing me to turn towards

you and flash my teeth, as I’ve been trained 

to do,

when all I want is to unzip my 

flesh, imprints from the zipper all down my back,  the 

stockings the girdle the bra in a heap.

 

I am, I am not. Little girl on her knees, eyes screwed

shut – 

sees a beach, a desert, a castle with a knight who

climbs up the rope of my hair.

 

My teeth impossibly white,

my hair so sculpted it

crunches, I’m on 

the cover of every magazine, I’m wrapped 

around every cock, 

I make grown men cry, hundreds of letters every 

week – Marry me.  I’ll make you happy, I swear.

 

This one looks kind, gets drunk 

and falls asleep, this one

bores me, talks about the Soviet spies

under his bed, 

this one can’t even talk to me only drools, this 

one shoves me aside to be in my photos, 

this one stares – kisses my forehead,

throws me down, wordless – 

he lasted a month.

 

A red silk dress with a huge taffeta skirt, 

Twenty pairs of heels in my closet.

New handbags every week,

Every day, if I want them.

I still don’t know but

I smile when told, laugh, cry, stick my tongue in a new someone’s mouth

Knowing he’ll never be the one

to climb up the rope of my hair.

 

After Seven Year Itch, the men who sniff after me

have more class, less obvious drool. 

They have their own headlines, they don’t share mine.

It’s a relief, but

the flashbulbs are hotter, 

Makes my makeup crack and run.

 

I have to be stupid, sound like a 

three-year-old, anything else

they make me re-do it. 

I have to be stupid – but now,

a hundred shoes; they have their own closet.

 

My lost doll, Diana.

I want black hair, like hers.

I get down on my knees,

to see how it feels.

 

Every month my guts twist

when I bleed, twenty bottles of aspirin on the shelf.

But I’m allowed to miss work – no one calls me a 

stuck up bitch.

I want hotel rooms on the highest floors,

I demand houses with higher roofs,

So he can find me.

He can’t climb up that fake, blonde,

too-short hair, but

I can let down this bloody sheet.

 

That goddamn windy skirt, it made Joe leave.

If I act like a grown-up, refuse to speak

like a toddler, 

they complain, they sneer, they yell – 

and still, someone manages  to pinch my ass.

I am, I am not.

 

This man with the glasses. A friend tells me he

wants to meet me, wants me, wants to laugh at me,

who knows?

I do it as a dare to myself.

He’s kind of ugly but he’s kind,

He knows I have things to say

that are not a three-year-old’s thoughts.

Sometimes he puts his body between

me and the cameras.

 

To marry I have to change, read books they tell me are

different, their own, but

what I don’t understand is 

it’s the same Bible.

We used to read it every morning, every night, all day Sundays.

He sees me light the Friday candles then 

drop to my knees for praying.

He yanks me up by my elbow.

We don’t do that, get up!

 

My guts still knot themselves every month,

His baby grows inside me, but in the wrong place

in a tube I never knew I had.

I am, I am not.

They won’t let me grow my hair;

it’s in my contract.

He will have nothing to climb up.

 

So many hotel rooms,

so many things so much better than aspirin.

They actually fire me

from my own picture! They know goddamn well

It won’t sell

without me.

So I grow my hair longer,

It’s black as night, like Diana’s,

In bed, my eyes click open, shut.

No more red carpets

No girdles, no zippers – no need.

If I am very still,

If I hang the bedsheet out my window,

If my hair can hit the sidewalk,

He will climb up.