Aisha Hamid

Tying my father’s hair in a ponytail
After Ama Codjoe’s Lotioning My Mother’s Back

Because he has never tied his hair before, he requests
my practiced hands, gather the silver silk strands

shimmering under the fluorescent tube light
wispy and fragile like the throbbing neck of a sparrow

between my electric fingers. I am aware of how easy it is to break
hair, his hair I have never touched before. My palms prickle,

gather information in the crevices of its skin:
Here is another way to hold him, kiss him.

A reason to touch. I scratch my palm with fingers
of that hand, the other full of his hair; how one hand can carry

nothing and still be heavy. One night, I felt the cool stream
of my breath touch the back of my hand and I too belonged.

When I’m done, he asks me to take a photo. Moves his head
to one side, closes his eyes, the ponytail curling like mine

but lose. I can’t seem to get it right, the way my mother couldn’t.
Because it is the lonely pandemic and his hair has never grazed his shoulders

before and doesn’t it feel so good to be wanted?



Aisha Hamid is a poet and writer from Lahore, Pakistan, pursuing her MFA at Northwestern University. Her short story, How (Not) to Leave, was shortlisted by the inaugural Zeenat Haroon Rashid Writing Prize for Women, 2019. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Pleiades, Vallum Magazine, The Aleph Review, Lakeer Magazine and elsewhere.