So I had this fringe cut
to hide the tramlines
on my forehead (because,
like Edinburgh’s, they are
unsightly and regrettable
but too costly
to remove at this stage.)
The fringe, however, has a life
of its own, by which I do not
mean a kink, a cowlick,
a tendency to stick
up or out, but rather that
she has her own pursuits belonging
not to her roots – they are the same
as every other mousey brown
hair on my head – but to her tips,
snipped, at eye level.
First she demanded I tease
out and tweeze out
the No Parking zig zags
she deemed offensive not for
the white of them but for
their coarse, wiry waves.
An act of unprecedented vanity.
Next she required mascara to
separate my lashes from all
the other hair now there.
“I don’t wear make-up”, I said.
“Well, I do”, she said.
Which is true since
the wand in my shaky hands
magically turned everything charcoal.
“Mmm, black. Like my coffee.’
She approved. This
was news to me, having previously
favoured a decaf soya latte
with sugar-free hazelnut syrup.
“Non”, she said (did I mention
She was French?) “I cannot
hang over that. Black.”
I sipped tentatively at first,
no real thirst
for change, but I’ll admit
there was something in it.
And then came the chocolate.
Locked in a cupboard behind
the shelves of sweet and creamy kisses -
“Pour les enfants”, she dismisses
as she swishes around -
thick and brown:
one hundred percent cacao;
no milk, no sugar.
It was like finding god in the second floor
café of a department store.
“See?” she said, “See?”
Soon we were skipping
breakfast and lunch for tiny mouthfuls
of silky ink that opened up the sky like Christmas.
Then we wrote for hours:
she dictated; I typed.
In the evenings, after a three course dinner,
I would rest my head against my husband’s
chest and she would tickle my ear and whisper
One finger between us in a jar that used to hold
Nutella. I have never drunk whisky in my life.
“Is not you, is me” she giggles coquettishly.
And afterwards, of course,
she wants a Gauloise.
I draw the line
straight across from the far corner of one
made-up eye to the other.
She falls limply to my nose, knows
that she could be back in a ponytail
by next year if she pushes her luck,
running 5k for a kale smoothie.
She soothes me, “No smoking, cherie!
Only joking, mais oui!”
And I stroke her back,grateful for small mercis.