Sore Fingers

At night my long hair was wrapped
in rags - pristine strips
of thick white cloth.
Sore fingers, my mother called them.
My unruly curls bandaged
into six stiff sore fingers,
to be unravelled in the morning
to reveal
shiny ringlets
to be tied in bunches
with broad, bright, bias cut ribbons.

I wanted plaits.
All the heroines
in my childhood 
books had plaits
I dreamt about plaits
fantasized about plaits.
No more sore fingers.
I wanted plaits.

Sometimes I untied the ringlets,
to my mothers displeasure,
and made untidy, unsuccessful plaits.
Plaits would ruin my hair, my mother said.
Would spoil it’s natural curl,
destroy it
in some

I didn’t care.
I hated ringlets.
I hated sore fingers.
I wanted plaits.

First published in Silver Birch Press, My Mane Memories series, February 2016


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