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Pectoriloquy |

Hair Fugue FREE TO VIEW

Judith Terzi, MA
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Editor’s Note: The poet writes, “I am living in Pasadena, CA, and hold an M.A. in French Literature. I was compelled to write ‘Hair Fugue’ after watching a dear cousin’s beautiful, thick white hair tumble onto his shoulders after several sessions of chemo.”

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2013;143(3):870. doi:10.1378/chest.12-0943
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        -for David
You ask me to tell you a story from GodsMan,
but I can’t take my eyes off your thick, wavy hair.
It drifts & twirls, lands like fresh snow onto your dark
brown sofa cushions. Onto your red wool sweater.
Remember how you & I danced at weddings &
bar mitzvahs? The first woodcut shows an artist
struggling in a storm at sea. Remember our balding
uncles, their tight shoes & shiny striped three-piece
suits from Zachary All? The artist gives his last coin
to a one-legged beggar, but I keep looking at your stark
white hair. Remember how our balding uncles danced
with platinum blond aunts in dark flowery polyester:
side-together-side-together-side-together-step
to every single platter from Elvis to the Stones,
the Beatles to the Bee-Gees? I watch your hair float
& swirl, watch it drift like ash onto your dark brown
sofa cushions. Onto your red wool sweater. The artist
strikes a bargain with a masked stranger, an auctioneer.
Further on, it seems the artist finds fame & gold-digging
women. Remember how you & I danced at weddings?
How our aunts went crazy over your wild mustache
& voluminous dark brown Afro sphere. Who knew
about illness then, about the toll of treatment—
this astonishing dance of your hair? Near the end
of the graphic novel, the so-called auctioneer removes
his mask for a portrait; I realize he’s the devil but
don’t want to tell you. So here’s real & poetic justice:
The artist pushes the auctioneer-devil into an abyss
between the shadowed, pointy cliffs of Lynd Ward’s
final woodcut. Then you & I dance like we used to—
rock ‘n’ roll, cha-cha-cha, & maybe some Tango Nuevo.


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