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

fantasised 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.


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