Uncle Mark told me if it didn’t wear a hat,
my hair would snap off. I liked courting

some dangers, skidding down the hill to school
right after soaking my long, thick hair

in the clawfoot tub. My uncle tried to break me,
pulled it a few times. Never cold enough to break.

I didn’t fit. I closed my face. Coldblooded,
the family said. I dreamed of a school far north,

the letters of Minnesota in a clean white heap.
Mary tossing her hat. Rhoda wrapped,

her sidekick hair covered against men, I guess.
I’d have her room at the top of the house,

the safe swirls of color. Outside, the white.
When the scholarship came, I stayed home.

Pamela Murray Winters

Pamela Murray Winters lives and works in Bowie, Maryland. She received a 2022 Independent Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. Her first book was The Unbeckonable Bird from FutureCycle Press. She’s at work on her second book.

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