Her mother called her hair dishwater blonde,
referring to the swirls of ash and gold,
to the way it scrubbed everything clean,
the way it had the leavings of the universe,
stars shattered onto metallic strands
speaking in the voice of nebulae softened
for earth’s atmosphere, a beautiful thing
that couldn’t be seen by a parent, except
in reference to the everyday muck of
leftovers washed away, but beautiful still,
I hope my mom knew, beautiful still.
Vivian Wagner is an associate professor of English at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. Her work has appeared in Muse /A Journal, Forage Poetry Journal, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Creative Nonfiction, The Atlantic, The Ilanot Review, Silk Road Review, Zone 3, Eyedrum Periodically, 3QR, and other publications. She’s also the author of a memoir, Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington), and a poetry collection, The Village (Kelsay Books).