August 2002



Ja'net's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Rainbow Curve, Red Rock Review, Medicinal Purposes, and Curbside Review. This fall, she will pursue an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Cal State University, Long Beach. This is her first publication in an online magazine.
My Mother's Rollers   

Before bed, you dress your head
          with rollers the size of Campbell soup cans,
                    silver plastic gripping Clairol Sunlit Brown

hair that will not straighten. You are
          newly wed and quelling waves 
                    that you tangled into braids as a child,

summer-striped blonde and ash sand tipped
          with rubber bands. They grazed your shoulders
                    like frayed paintbrushes, almost dipping into

mud puddles on Pitkin Avenue, East New York, as you
          crouched on elbows and knees on the sidewalk, 
                    to play Skelzy—to flick

aluminum bottle caps heavy with melted crayon.
          Dusk congested the ghetto
                    and you skipped

to the Protestant church across the street
          for Girls’ Night
                    where you learned to sew 

and, on Sunday evenings,
          crashed services for the cake
                    at the reception afterwards. Later,

you stalked stars like crumpled candy wrappers,
          past the junkyard—where you'd scrape knees
                    on tires piled like a sierra, overlooking

vegetable vendors and jelly apple wagons
          lining Georgia Avenue—to the green couch
                    of your apartment house.

In Acapulco, on your honeymoon,
          the lamplight in your hotel room catches the metallic hue
                    of the rollers and he complains, grieves

the time your hair demands, the hours
          the rollers keep you from the bed
                    until you cut it all off for him.



Ja'net: Poetry
Copyright © 2002 The Cortland Review Issue 21The Cortland Review