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And now. . . hair. Hair’s so intimate, so personal, potentially so beautiful. No other integument—fingernail clippings, let’s say—would have been made into a brooch, as the Victorians did, commemorating a departed beloved. And nothing other than a lock of hair could ever, imaginably, end up in a locket. As we’ve been preparing this issue, I’ve been trying to stick with memories of washing my childhood hair in rain water warmed on top of a wood stove in our summer cottage on Lake Winnipeg, or about letting my four-year-old ringlets dry in the beneficent, clear prairie sunshine.
But my hair thoughts are not all so sunny. Visiting my mother, I discover that, with the ubiquitous short-cropped hair that’s the nursing-home style, I have to stare closely at all the elderly snowy heads to find the one I am so anxiously and so tenderly seeking. I eschew lockets, but I do keep (in my mother’s cedar chest) the pelts of her young woman’s mahogany brown hair—a braid, a bun—which she’d had cut and styled to wear as hairpieces in her dramatic thirties and forties. These hairy mementos are a creepy parallel to what my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease creates—an imitation of life. The hair—so human— looks and feels lifelike, and but it’s just an emblem of the vibrant woman on whom it used to grow.
In this unusual issue of LILITH you’ll find both memory and desire, plus brave analysis and true confessions. It’s a treat!