A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
The wig arrived in a pretty pink box. I’d ordered it online from a wig shop. Silky, blonde and long, it felt as if I were entertaining a movie star in my hallway. Grace Kelly in a box on my couch. So nice to meet you, I said, slipping it on.
On my head, it looked a bit different, but I sashayed around the hallway naked, slipped on a shortie night shirt and long-nosed barracuda slippers, waltzed myself into the living room. I sat on the sofa impressing the dog. A few hours later, I went to the mirror to remove it but it wouldn’t come off. My husband came home, took one look at me and began unbuttoning his shirt. “God, he said, is it Halloween? Take that thing off.” I again tried to remove it, but it was stuck as if crazy glued to my scalp. I went to the bathroom mirror to see what I could do; all of the wig’s elegance was gone. The weight of it pressed down on my face.
I thought about cutting the wig, but that wouldn’t solve the problem. Instead, I stepped into the shower and turned the hot water on full blast, letting it splash over my face and head, hoping that the steam would loosen it enough to gently pull it off. After about twenty minutes, I wrapped a towel around myself and rubbed enough steam off the mirror to see myself. There was some gray in the wig now as there was in my own hair, but I was seeing something different, I can do something with this, I thought. Grace was gone and an unknown actress in her middle years, an actress who had featured in great character roles, had taken her place, bawdy and ready for a fight.
Later, my husband got over his caution and kissed my head. “Your hair smells good,” he said. He rubbed his head against it as if it were our dog’s soft coat. He blew gently through hairs as if trying to spread the sparks into logs that had not yet broken into flame. He felt like a stranger, with his greying chest hairs. “You’re messing up my hair,” I said and lit a French cigarette. He did what he always does when he wants to seduce me. He recited a poem from Pablo Neruda in his most alluring voice. And at last I told him what I had always wanted to tell him: “It’s a bad translation.”
Copyright 2021 Meg Pokrass & Jeff Friedman
MEG POKRASS is the author of six flash fiction collections, an award-winning collection of prose poetry, two novellas-in-flash and a forthcoming collection of microfiction, Spinning to Mars recipient of the Blue Light Book Award in 2020. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Washington Square Review, Wigleaf, Waxwing and McSweeney’s. She serves as Founding Editor and series co-editor of Best Microfiction.
JEFF FRIEDMAN’s eighth book, The Marksman, was published in November 2020 by Carnegie Mellon University Press. He has received numerous awards and prizes for his poetry, mini tales, and translations, including a National Endowment Literature Translation Fellowship in 2016 and two individual Artist Grants from New Hampshire Arts Council. Two of his micro stories were recently selected for the The Best Microfiction 2021.