I resume my Saturday night post
between stretchmarks,
shoulders caught between chestnut
thighs as Grandma greases my scalp.
She carmines the nape of my neck
with her rattail comb, the one
with gaps where my naps
wrestled and won.

The coffee table muddles with jars
of gel and rubber bands that welted
her thumbs when they snapped,
my backside numb on the living room
carpet, dahlia fibers honeycombing
my skin through my oversized tee.

Be still now, and I strain
against her grip on my roots,
chawing tongue to check my
mewls, focusing on the click
of her short nails colliding
as she plaits piece over piece.

She hums “For Your Glory,”
parts my hair into sections,
gridding out old city streets
and rows of cotton;
I wonder if she braids my hair
for the pastor’s approval
or God’s—they’d never say.

From I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times (Soft Skull, 2023) by Taylor Byas. Copyright © 2023 by Taylor Byas. Used with the permission of the Soft Skull Press, an imprint of Catapult LLC.