Sunday 25 June 2023

'Releasing the Locks' by Emily Macdonald

In the flying—flying through time and space—I see my hair streaming behind me, tresses curling in my wake, Botticelli’s siren blonde locks, and wings too, white feathered, beating the wind in strong measured strokes.

My hair, it lay on his shoulder. Sometimes he cupped it in both of his hands, lifted it from my neck while he kissed me, a prospector feeling the golden weight, precious ingots held in his fingers. 

“Don’t ever cut it,” he’d said. “One day I’ll climb your hair, I’ll take you from here.” 

I smiled at him, and we kissed again, me blinded already, lost in the wilderness of him.

My scalp is shaven, the skin freckled and creased, probes plastered in place. I’m strapped in this chair but flying and free, soaring back to the source of myself, over the river’s twists and turns, the rushing rapids, and the still opaque ponds. Streams and rivulets, brooks and burns, dams and springs, oxbow lakes looping in on themselves. 

I fly towards the golden tendrils of hair, twisted, and plaited like rivers winding through deep sided ravines, bound, and pinned fast like canal water trapped in a lock or flowing free, spreading easy and wide where the estuary meets the sea. 

And when I find myself there, I lift the hair in two hands, feel the weight and marvel once more at the gold of it. I lift higher, clear of the mollusc of my ear, and I whisper there into the shell of myself: “Cut your hair”.

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