Does dyeing hair blond mean one is reaching for something, someone, some other body in a fantasy of white-pleasing pleasantness?
—Claudia Rankine, Just Us
In the GE village next to the Fukushima reactor
most of the American women dyed their hair
from dishwater to frosted or platinum.
They were still engineer’s wives with the added bleaching
whitening their whiteness among Japanese folks.
Nuclear power must have been intimately connected
to all sorts of false economies—
of believing progress is our most important product
& we bring good things to life,
of buying up paddy fields, of clearing pine forests
for foundations of our houses,
of quiet slippers echoing down the hall,
carrying hand sewn clothes back to drawers.
What is the half-life of a needle and thimble?
My mother entered the kitchen with short, frosted hair
and arms laden with pine twigs.
I remember those slow notes she hummed, that longing
for what no one could have recalled.
I saw my father’s fingers at the edge of her blouse collar—
wanting her hair to grow beyond the nape,
waiting for the wood stove to warm his touch.