Carlos Andrés Gómez: Black Hair

I made her a vow
              that I always would,
so I join two fresh clusters
              in my clumsy
and careful hands as I cradle
              her slumbering nape.
I am submerged in the calculus
              of it all, as though
concentration is where I took
              my misstep. As though I am
not three decades behind
              in my practice. As though it is just
about finding the pattern
             (too late). I’m too late, I think,
or maybe it’s something else: his hands
             never knew how to fix
my sister’s hair. I tend
             each thick, onyx strand
like I’m mending her favorite blanket,
            as though my calloused
digits might coax and shape
            anything into an ordered grace.
I layer another braid
            into the tidy maze
crowning her scalp. I can feel,
            with each pull and twist,
the newly assembled
            crib watching. 

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