(Photo: Fotos de Camisetas de SANTI OCHOA)

This fall, our son’s chosen
to grow his hair out long.

He keeps his tresses clean,
Otherwise lets the fields lie fallow,

Doesn’t cultivate with comb and brush.
One woman on Grand stares so long

at his hair, she trips over the curb.
Our mellow teen’s unfazed,

But his friend shouts at her:
Why don’t you just take a picture?

In winter, ropey knots and dreadlocks
raise a lion’s mane around his face.

On myspace.com, he uses Bob
Marley’s photo, not his own.

Now in hot spring, he scores his first job,
can’t fit his ’do into the employee cap,

decides to have the wild bush
whacked, but declines the barber

whose shop attracts other young
black men with high style.

There’s no escape for his father
who pulls out hair-trimming tools

inherited from his grandma.
Michael drapes a Batman cape,

sits on a kitchen stool so his dad can shear
the black mats that fall like Brillo pads.

The one now bald doesn’t appear
to be the same boy: a soldier

could wear this chiseled head.
But look again, a softhearted youth

comes back thinking how to use
the surplus he raised and leaves behind.

Could it make a wig? he asks,
for someone like your mother

who got sick? I mask a smile,
imagine setting on her bare head

an ebony Rastafarian crown, bold
as shining gold bequeathed

from a grandson
she would have loved to hold.

Margaret Hasse is a poet, teacher, and editor of other poets’ work. Her fifth book of poetry, Between Us, won the poetry prize of the Midwest Independent Publishers Association.