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Rainwater Hair, a poem by Steve Brammell




Rainwater Hair

All that rain and I happened to be there,

my grandmother’s big house on the corner

with brown asphalt siding and the mock orange in bloom,

the coal stove in the front room cold now,

mica pane without that winter glow 

from bright burning anthracite.

My grandmother in one of the printed dresses

she always wore, her gray hair long in braids,

and my aunt with her iron bun held by pins,

and her teenage daughter, her white blond

Shirley Temple curls no barrette could tame,

all three grabbing metal buckets

and rushing through the thunder

to the down spout gushing next to the porch,

telling me to bring more pots from the kitchen

as theirs got filled with foamy harvest.

“We wash our hair in rainwater,” 

my cousin explained as the storm passed

as fast as it had come,

my aunt more happy than I’d ever seen her,

my grandmother dipping a juice glass and handing it to me,

“Drink it,” she said, “It will make you tall and handsome.”

Rain tasted of lightning and flint with a hint of coal smoke

and the deep spot in the creek back home 

where my friends and I would dive.

My cousin said it was important

to use the rain right after it had fallen,

and the three of them left me with my comic books

on the living room couch,

and soon I could hear 

the sound of laughing and splashing 

drifting down the stairs.

I watched the sky clear through the bay window

where my grandma had placed a jar of green sun tea

that she would later sweeten with A&P honey

and sip while she listened to her giant wooden radio

with its golden dial,

her rainwater hair smelling of baby shampoo 

and spreading in a silver fan

across her clean silk blouse,

her foot tapping to Dixieland jazz.

Steve Brammell's poems, short fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in Alabama Magazine, Birmingham Magazine, RavensPerch, Northwest Indiana Literary Journal, White Wall Review, The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Write Launch, Flying Island Journal, Cathexis Northwest Press, Toho Journal and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Finishing Line Press has just published his book of short stories, Red