Published on Academy of American Poets (

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.


Copyright © 2016 by Jenny Browne. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 7, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“America’s family is originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and she works on Saturdays. My daughter pointed at the haircut she wanted, and America asked ‘So what do you like best about this picture?’ This seemed like a really good question.”
—Jenny Browne


Jenny Browne

Jenny Browne is the author of Dear Stranger (University of Tampa Press, 2014). 

Date Published: 2016-09-07

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