Colleen Anderson

Aunty never cut my hair
perhaps to enjoy the luxury
where her own bristly, defiant bush
was more akin to untamed weeds
Each day these golden fronds
            reached toward the light
            freedom of the open fields
I loved their waves
the cascades like a pale sea
When my hair reached my feet
it began to gather life
            ladybirds and beetles
            even the small sparrow’s nest
I played games in solitude
braiding, winding, even weaving
this plaited kudzu vine
when my locks doubled in length
At first I created childhood whimsies
hid corn dollies
wheaten waifs within my tresses
Then I wove fences, baskets
cages for the living
and other forms of binding
as I sought to define my space
I trapped them all
robins, goldfinches, fat bees
mice and one green snake
saddened when they held no secrets
I shook free their fragile bones
Years crawled onto Aunty’s back
as she bent to time’s weight
she dispensed with aerial magics
commanded me to form a ladder
Did she leave my hair flowing
so she could ascend my golden stair
or believe it burdened me to stay
Keep me entangled in images
of a fairytale life, a hoarded treasure
or as dues for her long-pilfered greens
Without my hair, like Samson
would I be nothing of worth
would I matter at all
Would I be another
abandoned child tossed to the wind
to settle on my own
It is a fantasy I keep
One day soon
I shall weave the key
that will spring the lock
that is my hair


Colleen Anderson’s poems have been published in five countries in such venues as Silver Blade, Penumbric, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, and HWA Poetry Showcase. My poetry collection, I Dreamed a Worldis from LVP Publications.

Author’s Backstory and Comments: I’m working on a collection of poems, My Vegetal Life, based off of the Rapunzel fairytale. These poems span Rapunzel’s life from being taken into the tower to after she is banished. I’m part of an SFPA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association) critique group and workshopped this poem to define the imagery more succinctly. A challenge of writing a series on one subject is how to keep each poem distinct, with its own story that doesn’t need the other poems to support it. Each poem then becomes a story within the greater story arc. “Locks” is part of the section where Rapunzel begins to chafe at her captivity and questions the world beyond the tower.

Editor’s Notes and Image Credit: Fantasy image of Native American girl with birds about her hair [konachan.net]


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