Friday, October 09, 2009

The Big Hair


There are big hairs in this world. They are big. They are long. They are in the mountains where the sun sinks; on the shore where the waves throw themselves with a relieved sigh; wrapped around sofas in front rooms and around babies; in the dark green underbelly of growing things; stretched over the vacant deserts and in bathroom sinks. Big hairs seek the sky. They reach beyond clouds. They hope for what is past stars. They murmur.

There was a big hair outside of town. Everyone knew it. You could see it in the eyes of the old people, the sheep, and the children. At night, it cast long shadows and the insects left. The townspeople went to their places of prayer, and prayed. They hid in their insect beds and tried to remember. They played cards and thought about what to do. They went into the street and brushed smooth their smallest hairs.

They spoke.
“What does the big hair want?”
“What does it ask of us?”

They sent a barber to speak to the hair. “What should I say?” the barber said. “What if I love the big hair?”
“Don’t bring scissors,” the philosopher said.

I was the big hair. I was big and long and I sought the sky. Once, during a time I can hardly remember, I was a healthy head of hair. I was some fur, an eyebrow, the hackles of something wild, a dentist. I was surprised by myself. Was I not a bristle, a curl, a forelock? Was my shadow not a minor darkness, a crooked finger pointing toward night? Without eyes I could not weep. Without fingers I could not point. My mind was a shadow, a mirrored darkness, a crooked finger longing for space. I wished to go beyond clouds. I wished to rest in the soft sky, to touch with my fingerless hands, the sinkholes of stars.

Out in the meadow where the sheep gather, the barber spoke to me.
“To be honest,” he said, “I’m scared.”

I twisted myself then into a swart turban, a top hat vortex, a meridian on a Moebius planet, a hirsute tornado. I became his hair and I rested like a dark crown upon his head. When it rained, the splatters lashed me with their damp tongues. When the blank crows of blizzard swirled, their frigid wingtips jackfrosted me. The sun was a cigarette burn upon me, but the barber was safe beneath the shelf of my Pompadour.
“When I am with you,” the barber said, “thought and feeling are a dark beam rising, night’s trunk ascending toward the quintessence.

We did not know where to go but the insects guided us, a swarming alphabet of changing tongues and we walked the fields beyond town. We followed their green glow toward that iridescent place where the insect king holds court.

There beneath a carapace of shadow and lustre, shone the throne of the king. The king himself was a hundred thousand insects swarming in the shape of a single insect, a dark and flickering shadow, a king in a net of eyes. We approached.
“Barber with your crown of shadow, we understand you,” the king said. “From your pink head emerges a giant antennae as if all the knowledge and experience of insects were contained in a single living encyclopaedia, but yet your human body which is a solitary and unprotected thing, is a mystery to us.”

The insects sat us down in the king’s chair. “We have been waiting for you,” they said and gave the barber scissors sharp as the scimitar of moon. Then in a Morse code of dots only, the insects crept the length of him, crawling toward the silver blades so with a single susurration, the barber could slice the antennae from the jot of their heads, remove all touch and sight and hearing. But still the insects crept, climbing now toward the sky along the black stalk of my body, unfurled, slick and dark like the surface of a road. I sought the sky and the world above, but now, the night teemed with insects, searching for stars like sugar. The sky crawled with them, the stars surrounded, then finally, extinguished by their number. It was as if the written letters of a story kept breeding until the page was consumed and all was darkness.

O Barber, the rains may fall, the winds may X-Acto-knife our shoulders, we may become old and soft and indistinct as paper crumpled and uncrumpled a thousand times, yet I shall protect you though all that remains are murmurs and the shadows of shadows trying to find a place to fall.

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