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Undoing Her Hair

Laura Van Prooyen

It was the voice
singing in her daughter’s ear
that no one but the child
could hear, then the phantom
in the hall perceived only
by the girl and her cat
that made the mother think
back to the first fever
and spinal tap, to her child
curled up, delirious
at the onset of disease
and know the more
the body fails, the more
the girl speaks of what
the mother cannot see,
so that even as she holds
her daughter on her lap
blond and twisted braids
she can’t believe
she ever thought
this girl belonged to her.

Laura Van Prooyen

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