My Mother’s Hair Goes North


By Catherine Esther Cowie

My mother stands in the mirror, rakes her hand through her hair, shakes the tufts of relaxed strands onto the bedroom floor. Gadé, gadé, she sucks her teeth, lifting up her hair to reveal the back. Patches of long and short strands zig-zag across like a field of elephant grass someone has hacked their way through. She dips a finger in the African Pride hair grease, rolls and tucks the damaged strands, then rubs the grease down the scalpy middle. I send my Dad the email; she wants him to know what has happened to us, what he has done. He is home with the sun and the sea. Outside the snow hangs unmovable from roofs and tree branches. The neighbors next door build a snowman. Kids fling themselves against the cold ground making snow angels. Snow clings to their hair—it is in their mouths and nostrils. This is what the cold does, my aunt warned before we left.


Catherine Esther Cowie is originally from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia but currently resides in Arlington Heights, IL. She is a Callaloo fellow. Her work appears in Public Pool and Rock & Sling

Photo credit: Jessica Munoz

Photo credit: Jessica Munoz