There is plenty of hair, don’t worry about that. I have hair on my chin like a billy goat, hair in my eyebrows, hair between my teeth and coming out my nose. Hair on my hands, and between my fingers.

Hair around my belly button to guard against someone who might want to be my mother, and attach to me umbilically. Hair down there, down there, in there and out of there.

We were only small and under the table, and there was all our hair. I gave her a power fringe, she gave me a mullet.

Younger, when Mum cut my fingernails for the first time (they’re a kind of hair) my sister screamed and yelped for me No! You can’t throw those away, they’re hers! My tiny crescent moons, flicked into the garden.

Older, I liked to scrape my fingernails through the rotting wood on the deck, just for the pleasure of cleaning them again.

We would peel the tiny white hairs off mandarins with our fingers and undress the fruit of its inner skin. Take out the segments one by one, and eat them. One time, we used tweezers to do it.

Now I use the tweezers, the same ones, to pluck the young man from my face, to pluck away the billy goat, get off, get out of my shadow. I am a woman now, bare, bare, bare. I am a woman now, with hair.

Rata Gordon is a poet, embodiment teacher and arts therapist. Her first book of poetry Second Person was published in 2020 by Victoria University Press. Through her kitchen window, she sees Mount Karioi.

​Poem source details >


Rata Gordon's website

Victoria University Press author page

Q&A about Second Person

Expressive Arts with Rata facebook page

Photographer credit: Ben Whitmore