The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 16 no. 1


Kasey Jueds

Girl, 9, Secretly Snips a Lock of Another Student’s Hair


She sees its color is like shouting, like singing
in church when all the notes
shoot skyward. And layered, like a lake,
dusky underneath where sun won’t go,
where her toes might touch bottom or float
apart from her, vanish
into fish, lily, dark. This girl
is not her friend, but her hair
could be, it is so much, generous as pears
in a backyard garden before sparrows
pock and scar them, scatter their gutted husks...
  and it’s her hand
reaching now for one wisp, such a smallness
that could, with luck, help her step
into some elsewhere—
like letters ghosting the sides of city buildings,
when just the wing of sewing starts machines
whirring in her head: she knows
it only takes a little, and it’s her hand reaching
the scissors from inside her desk—she sees it
far off, shimmering, but it’s her hand and not
like dying—what she knows
from books, squashed squirrels,
her grandmother’s whittling-down—but more
like waking on a snow day, her feet warm
where they rub together near the bed’s end,
out her window the parked cars’ edges
softened, swallowed, and even
in its highest branches where she
can never go, the thin oak holding what’s fallen
up to the blank sky
that gives permission, makes possible.