POEMS & ESSAYS
Poem of the Day:
Braiding His Hair
by Alison Luterman
originally published in The Sun
Here we are each morning:
my husband on our old kitchen chair, its upholstery
mended with duct tape, his head bent forward
while I comb out his long
wheat-colored hair. Not what I thought
we’d be doing in our sixties,
me dividing the wet silk of it, still stubbornly
reddish-gold, only a little
white at the sideburns. Three thick hanks
in hand, I begin to plait: over, under, over, under.
I don’t remember when he stopped
cutting his hair and decided
to let it grow long as a girl’s —
and he was mistaken for a girl once,
a tall, stoop-shouldered man-girl,
when he stood on the sidewalk, back turned,
and a car drove by, honking and catcalling.
At him, not me. We laughed,
but I had to wonder: When did his tresses, now
halfway to his waist, first spill
over his shoulders? It must have happened while we slept,
as most things do. And how did he come to sit
before me so patiently now, head bowed while I braid,
as if he were the daughter I never had
and this my one chance
to weave my care into each over, under,
When I Heard About the Gunman
Published in Rattle, Summer 2013
who opened fire in a movie theatre,
armed and armored, neck, groin and head;
gas-masked, with automatic rifle
killing and wounding as many as he could,
I was endeavoring to wedge my car
into the space left between hulking SUVs
at the crowded grocery store
and the radio was on; it always is.
Married, but Certainly Not to Tradition
Published in The New York Times, July 16, 2006
The groom’s mother wore a peach silk suit and an expression of mingled happiness, anxiety and bemusement. The other groom’s mother wore a peacock-blue dress and a similar expression, one that seemed to combine “I can’t believe this is happening” with “What a beautiful day, what a lovely chapel, what nice well-dressed people — just like a real wedding.
One groom’s father needed to step outside and smoke a lot. The other groom’s father was dead. Nieces were in abundance, though — a bouquet of skinny adorable girls, dressed in hot pink and giggling with excitement.
Published in the New York Times magazine, August 2020
Some girls can’t help it; they are lit sparklers,
hot-blooded, half naked in the depths of winter,
tagging moving trains with the bright insignia of their
I’ve seen their inked torsos: falcons, swans, meteor
And shadowed their secret rendezvous,
walking and flying all night over paths traced like veins
through the deep body of the forest
where they are trying on their new wings,
rising to power with a ferocious mercy
not seen before in the cities of men.
Published in The Sun, May 2012
My husband, Lee, was the one who heard the abandoned kittens piping and squeaking like an off-key orchestra composed entirely of piccolos and penny whistles. They were hidden in the overgrown weeds of the front yard, and it was raining. There were six of them, looking like featherless baby birds. I came home from work later that evening to find myself the proud foster mother of a half dozen minuscule, mewling, shit-smeared creatures.