“From Under the Dryer, I Watch the Beautician” by Ellen June Wright

Issue 24 / Winter 2021 / Special Issue: Pleasure

twisting and coiling a woman’s hair. Her nimble
fingers’ motions repeat with each lock, and I think
of childhood seated there between mother’s legs
as she once divided sections of my hair.

There’s comfort in hands tending to one’s scalp:
the familiar massaging in of oils, the comb
parting and sectioning, the deft fingers moving
effortlessly twining braid after braid. As mother

and child, we were held together by invisible strands.
A ritual grown out of too soon.
When else in life does one yield the body
to another when not in sickness or in love?

And it is as sensuous as an embrace and longed for—
that primal, human thing, that touch.



Ellen June Wright was born in Bedford, England of West Indian parents. She has worked as a consultant on guides for three PBS poetry series. She has been published in Louisiana Literature, Exit 13, Fourth River, and Hurricane Review, and is the founder of Poets of Color virtual poetry workshop.

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  1. Doris K White

    This poem as all of your poems is particular and universal. Your use of language creates a very special action, place and bond. Thank you for sharing this graceful and wondrous poem.

  2. Seema Tepper

    Oh, Ellen, Your poem…and you….a delightul combo! Miss you!

  3. Louise LoCascio Matarazzo

    Wonderful! Touch, Touch, that’s what we need. Either our hearts or our hands.

  4. Barbara Morris-George

    Love is what love does.

  5. Barbara Morris-George


    Love is what love does.

  6. Paul S

    Exquisite. “When else….?” is a summons to share a memory so well described ANYone can feel it, and yet so personal only the poet can express it.

  7. Eileen Van Hook

    This is such a tender poem (I was tempted to say “touching”). I miss writing with you Ellen. Hope to see you at a workshop soon.


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