Saying Hello to Myself by Laura Hackshaw
You’re only 8 and your hoodie swings from the crown of your head in defiance
They say a black girl’s hair never grows
Sunday nights are spent sitting between a pair of sturdy legs and hands slap with big toothed combs
Only the girls with the small corkscrew curls get their faces on shampoo bottles
You offer answers to English children in the playground who ask why your hair is always greasy
(Garnier was not made for us)
We are not brunette or ginger or platinum blonde, our hair does not flick in the wind
Tomorrow you will be brave and ask your mum to get you a perm.
At school you loosen the plaits your mum had strained her back doing the night before
Brazen you unfold each layer, letting loose one obvious difference to others
The mixed boy who makes you laugh but paid you no mind, propositions you in the hall at lunch
I am seen. You contemplate this all throughout afternoon registration.
You’re only 15 and this perm is eating away at the edges of self-doubt
Making way for a new beginning
You don’t do the things you used to;
Swim, sweat, laugh in the rain, cry lying sideways in bed
You wouldn’t go on the date
Because it was raining that Saturday you chose to meet and you couldn’t let him
See you like that; your hair washed, polished from the skies, shrunken, masculine, raw
And soon that thing you have tried to roll up, crush beneath the weight of your palms
And part from becomes too shiny, too loud, too iridescent to shy from
all these years you have been trying to avoid looking into the mirror for too long
You’ve checked your reflection in the eyes of others far too often
Far too often remaining unseen.
Laura is a black British-Caribbean girl living in London. A lover of the written word, she has written articles for publications such as; The Body Narratives and The Student Journals. She also writes poetry and short stories and is currently working on a children’s book. You can find her on twitter and wattpad.
Illustration by Van Hong. Find her website: here.