Girl and Her Hair

by Tiffany Hsieh

Girl had naturally wavy hair, or so she said it was natural. She said even though she permed her hair in grades four, five, six, her ah-ma’s ah-ma’s ancestors had Portuguese blood from ancient times and her ba had a kink or two in his hair too. Girl said, Screw the student head. That was the hairstyle required for all girls in grades seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. Straight, ear-length, no bangs, no layers, no dyes, no perms, no products, the uniform-like student head was the closest thing that resembled communism in Taiwan. You got the ruler on your palms if you went a quarter inch too long or you looked like you did something to your hair other than combing it. Every time Girl got the ruler, her hands stung and she couldn’t practise the double bass, an instrument she picked for not wanting to pick the piano or the violin like everyone else did. She had just finished grade eight when her family said they were moving overseas to where she could have any hairstyle she liked. Purple, asymmetrical, moused, funky. Girl was naturally psyched, or so she said she was psyched. She said she would grow her hair long in grades nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen. She said she would grow it until it got too much or too wavy, usually around the shoulders, then she would cut it and go back to the short hair she had, or had always liked, in grades one, two, three. — Tiffany Hsieh was born in Taiwan and moved to Canada at the age of fourteen with her parents. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Malahat Review, Poet Lore, Room, Salamander, The Shanghai Literary Review, Sonora Review, The /temz/ Review, and other publications. She lives in southern Ontario with her husband and their dog.   Artwork by: Bram van Baal