Karina Lutz is a writer, editor, teacher, and lifelong activist. She was tutored by her mother Carol’s antiwar, civil rights, and electoral activism. Carol passed away in March; when she died, finally free of pain, her face looked more beautiful than it had even in life.
Mommy’s pin curls
“It hurts to be beautiful,”
she’d say, when we’d pull our heads away
as she struggled to tighten hair and bobby-pins against our temples.
She had been, still was beautiful
under the dorky glasses.
The smell of permanent would permeate our sinuses,
while we sat on a bench in the kitchen,
her own hair wrapped in the disposable curlers
that came with the box of DIY chemicals,
which let her pretend to the naturally curly hair
she’d craved as a child.
After slightly gouging the scalp,
two bobby pins
made a cross to hold the curls
as tightly as possible
against our heads.
We’d sleep on these.
And when they hurt,
we’d remember not to complain
so as not to hear again
“It hurts to be…”