When America Cuts My Daughter’s Hair

every chair in the strip mall
salon where she rents

a little space of her own
reflects a face waiting

to make a change. Another
mother next to me rips an ad

for the full Hollywood wax
& here the best graffiti:

They’ll grow back, my own

mom on the bangs I butchered
more than once. Do you think

America is pretty? This skinny
blonde kid who never really

has to ask if she is, asks me
as we walk more hot city blocks

because by now we’ve chopped
the pecans to protect the power lines.

I think America is pretty. A pierced
Xicana with one side of her own

do done in deep brown waves,
the other buzzed tight

& dyed a bright chemical green.
America fits the description

& when she’s done holds up
her small mirror in the big one

turning my girl around
so she can see herself.

You can call me Erica, she says
if you like, but we like

America better here.

Related Poems

Daughters, 1900

Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch,
are bickering. The eldest has come home
with new truths she can hardly wait to teach.

She lectures them: the younger daughters search
the sky, elbow each others' ribs, and groan. 
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch

and blue-sprigged dresses, like a stand of birch
saplings whose leaves are going yellow-brown
with new truths. They can hardly wait to teach,

themselves, to be called "Ma'am," to march
high-heeled across the hanging bridge to town.
Five daughters. In the slant light on the porch

Pomp lowers his paper for a while, to watch 
the beauties he's begotten with his Ann:
these new truths they can hardly wait to teach.

The eldest sniffs, "A lady doesn't scratch."
The third snorts back, "Knock, knock: nobody home."
The fourth concedes, "Well, maybe not in church. . ."
Five daughters in the slant light on the porch.