Friday, August 11, 2023

Cassandra Colors Her Hair

Yesterday, my mom treated me to a cut and highlights (or touch up for the highlights I got in January) at her favorite salon.  It's not the beauty parlor of olden days.  I sat down, and the stylist/technician asked me if I wanted something to drink.  I asked for water with fizz in it, and she said, "We don't have that, but we do have beer and wine."

They only had red wine, nothing white or pink or fizzy.  But I'm fine with red wine, and it's an upscale salon, so why not?  They served it in a goblet made of glass, as I would expect in a posh place.  I watched my fellow customers, our hair folded up in foil packets, and thought about how we looked like extras in a 50's or 60's sci fi movie.  I thought about the coast of Maui destroyed by fire and this summer that has smashed high temperature records on both land and sea.  A poem started to percolate in my brain.

The title came to me first:  Cassandra colors her hair.  It will contrast her past life, when she went to salons that served wine along dreams about what a hair cut and color could give us, with a current life in the midst of a climate crisis--or will it be post apocalypse?  I have a vision of Cassandra who knows how to use plants to coax life from a womb or end it, to use plants to stave off infection, to poison or to cure.  But for the most part, she uses her vast garden (and the nature preserve beyond her property) to color cloth and to dye her hair.

Can I pull it off or will it just seem trite?  We shall see.  Even if I can't pull it off, I'm happy that poems seem to be coming more quickly now.  For much of the past year, I've had a line here or there, and some days, I was able to create a poem, line by line, strand by strand.  In some ways, it was exciting to work that way, not knowing where the poem was headed, and being intrigued as I went along.  The work offered genuine surprises and discoveries, if I stuck with it long enough.

Yesterday felt like a process that is more familiar, when the poem comes to me more fully formed in terms of the idea and direction.  That process, too, can offer discoveries, but it's different.  The discoveries and directions don't feel quite as surprising, although they are delightful.

Should I should finish the Cassandra volunteering at summer camp before starting on this one?  Have I ever had 2 Cassandra poems in process at the same time?

At some point, I should look at all of the Cassandra poems to determine if they are about the same character.  My Noah's wife poems are about the same character.  But in the meantime, I'm just happy that these poems are flowing again--even as I am distressed about the climate/planet chaos that is inspiring them.

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