At The Beauty Shop With My Mother

On weekends she & I would clean for extra money a beauty shop

She washed grief out of hair before I could hold her —,

Her heart had a beat in its own chamber out of harm’s way

She practiced the knowledge of everything

On me —, eyes envisioned offenses she couldn’t perform

There’s nobody left to cover —, catastrophes are easily made

Depicted as falling in the grotto as I make happiness vanish

From a ruined ruin of memory —, I am in the steps of his valediction

Looking in trees for him in places where he wouldn’t settle down

The mist resettling mist —, if loss had a human face, it would look

Like hers, half of one, emerging from a ruin readying for a life

Juxtaposed between rocks —, I attach weights to my feet to keep

From floating up from the down world the road forking

Into continents one with & one without you —.


Russian-American poet Stella Hayes is the author of poetry collection One Strange Country (What Books Press 2020). She grew up in an agricultural town outside of Kiev, Ukraine and Los Angeles. She earned a creative writing degree at University of Southern California. Her work has appeared in The Lake, Prelude, The RecluseThe Indianapolis Review and Spillway, and is forthcoming from Mantis. “The Roar at Wrigley Field” is featured in Small Orange: Anthology and was nominated for Best of the Net 2020. “Ode to Strunk and White” featured in Rabid Oak, was nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize.


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