You shaved your hair off and waited for
the regeneration of ringlets,
the development of waves,
the slow invisible shaft growing
in the white fallow, the unknown field,
of your skull.
In the drawing room you sat shaven
among cleavages rank with sweat.
You wore a black feather boa, a sequined dress.
Slowly the first grayness hovered, an image
darkening under the light, under the hypo,
above the gray masses of the brain
You told them you were a scientist, an artist;
that you were sure God heard your prayers.
You told them it felt like sandpaper,
don’t touch it, well, all right.
They adjusted the lamp so the light fell
and the ladies passed their hands back and forth,
back and forth,
over the stubble.
At first it formed patterns like seaweed clinging
to a rock.
You wondered when it grew back
if it might turn traitor,
refuse the firm command
of brush and comb.
You whimpered in your sleep.
You wore a white shirt as we sat by the sea.
You picked up a shell bright as a mirror,
“Oh no,” you said, “I’ve missed it,
it’s grown back overnight!”
And you stood twisting a curl under the summer sun,
and your mouth made a little ‘moue’,
as a pink pebble.
—Cynthia Genser, “Your Last Experiment”
Art Credit David Maisel