China Braid by Meaghan Elliott

Interlocked into a rope of silk

and smelling of jasmine,

straight as fine black threads,

could weave a blanket

to cover the world,

strong, flat,

shining like midnight.


In her daughter’s hair

she places her comb –

jade flower and ivory fingers,

a gift from the handsome soldier

ten days before he died.

He shares his eyes with her daughter.


His mouth, too:

lips that fold over themselves

into a sour bud that hangs open.


She uses both hands to fasten

the soldier’s comb at the top of the braid.

He’d said it was his grandmother’s,

that she’d found it beneath a maple tree,

half-buried in dirt.


The comb is uneven; one tooth has broken off,

chipped from years of wear

and antiquity that scratches the scalp.

Categories: Issue 1 - Fall 2011, Periodicals, Poetry | Leave a comment

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