I met a woman at the bus stop who said her hair is like an antenna. She keeps hers long to receive transmissions more easily from her family, her children. You tell me what else hair is for, she said, and I couldn’t. I admitted it. She said some monks shave their heads to keep out as much interference as possible, while many artists like Da Vinci or Axl Rose keep theirs long to take things in. What about when a man goes bald? I asked, and she said it was because he’d stopped listening to the world. If he’d just listen, he wouldn’t lose his hair, she said. When you close yourself out, poof! She made a kind of cascading motion to indicate hair falling out. My bus came, but she didn’t get on, so I stayed with her and listened. I wasn’t about to go bald. She moved beyond hair to women’s clothes, how low necklines let air get in and cool a woman’s heart so she doesn’t burst into flames. Spontaneous combustion, she said, nodding. You check their clothes. I bet they were tight. Another bus came and she didn’t get on. Then another. She kept talking until the sun set and rose. Finally, she rose and walked away. I wanted to follow her. I wanted to weep and tell her: until now, I’d forgotten I even had hair, or that anything could burst into flame if held tight.
CL Bledsoee is the assistant editor for The Dead Mule and author of fifteen books, most recently the poetry collection Trashcans in Love and the flash collection Ray’s Sea World. He lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.