The Victorians were known to wear it on brooches,
pinned to the lapels of their dark wool coats.
Or in gold lockets, dangling between their breasts.
I keep it in boxes, in plastic bags, in white envelopes.
My brother’s perfect coil. My son’s black strands, silky
as when they first came in, that full head of hair, a surprise
on a baby. How common, once, the early death,
a backyard cemetery lined with ornate stones. A child,
gone to scarlet fever, a wife to childbirth, Spanish flu.
Longfellow’s wife caught fire, it’s said, sealing
her children’s hair in envelopes, the match she used
to melt the wax, fallen in the folds of her dress.
When I was a girl I rode horses without saddles
through the dry hills, clutched them by their manes—
those fine tethers—to hold on.