There are days she dreams of being a period. There’s rest in the end, calm in its finality, but all the letters get in the way in the day, block her in her sleep; at best, she can be a semicolon; hanging onto thoughts, never reaching cessation, merely persisting, tripping over letters & commas, exclamations & questions, but the period, the end, escapes her day after day, keeping her here among us, while she trips & chases the lines the rest of us now control, lettered criminals hiding from her the ideal spot.
Strands of hair on the floor / chair / clothes Reasons they're there (pick one): need haircut / aging days / self-inflicted Compulsion to twist / pull / yank out completely Pain equals holding back nails /swelling scalp / heartache where bald spots grow Dream of stopping / not starting /feeling good in my skin Calm until thoughts enter: I'm doing something wrong - again anxiety - not good enough - again doubt worthy of any passion - again Left hand sneaks up unnoticed / scratches back of head slips slowly away grabs a small lock / grabs the tip of one hair While listening or thinking wrap around finger / wrap around itself brittle knot firmly in place No one is looking nimble fingers, nimble thumb tug gently, twist fast tug, tug fast twist, twist faster twist / tug / twist / tug / twist / tug / twist / tug rip ripple of calm floats through the body until ripraps build up, no riposte can save me ripsaw thoughts cut me in little pieces Join the conversation movement picks up long strand now multiple knots not to be untied heat of eyes glued to my motions, not me They notice and I feel ashamed, guilty slide my hair strand in my pocket smile as if nothing happened Voices start not real voices, but they do call please restart, do it again, again, again Scalp throbs it calls me / it whispers the only way to stop this throb grab some hair, doesn't need to be much, and twist / pull Scalp throbs the only way to stop this throb grab some hair, doesn't need to be much, and twist / pull Scalp throbs hair-twist-tight-pull-yank hair everywhere but not on head not on head End of day fingers shake / scalp swells / bald spot grows my shame grows shame becomes anger - anger at self anger becomes hatred - hatred of self hatred becomes a fist full of hair pulled hard and rolled into a ball of self-disgust 1 trichotillomania is the unnatural urge, or compulsion, to pull out one's hair; it is a mental illness that is common among people who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder
Danielle Wong is the author of the poetry collection, Bubble Fusion, that portrays life with an autistic child. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Montreal Writes, Tipton Poetry, Pendemic, The Pine Cone Review, Chronicling the Days (Guernica Editions), Resistance (University of Regina Press), among others. Visit her at daniellewong.ca.