Hairdresser at the Rehab

On a broken woman’s scalp

a froth of white

gloves the fingers scrubbing

pillow-matted hair

combed, parted, cut, frosted

tissue-wrapped ends rolled gently

pink and blue.

Surrounded by potions

clear, cream

rinses and highlighters, protein

replenishers, a bouquet of

silver scissor wands

a judge whose voice can’t shape

her name sits rapt


a waitress taking days

to step one step


here, magic hands conjure

relics of self, and histories


come home.

Denise Bergman is the author of Seeing Annie Sullivan, poems based on the early life of Helen Keller’s teacher (Cedar Hill Books, 2005), and editor of City River of Voices, an anthology of urban poetry (West End Press).  Her poems have been published widely.