Poetry Classroom: My Daughter’s Hair

Welcome to this month’s poetry classroom, with poet Tania Runyan, author of A Thousand Vessels and Simple Weight. We invite you to respond to the poems we’ll share here—their forms, images, sounds, meanings, surprises—ask questions of Tania and each other, and write your own poems along the way.

My Daughter’s Hair

at birth just a few fingerprints
of light on her head

now a red tide washing
down the hallway

a cascade of carrot peels
hot pennies sliding on the dash

where’d she get it they ask
at the playground and store

I shrug     she grabs my leg
and splatters me with her wild paint

but in the sleepy mornings
I take the flaming silks in my hands

still     love     still
let me brush them awhile

let me braid them
before they burn out

Photo by Sonia Joie. Used with permission. Poem by Tania Runyan, author of A Thousand Vessels


Buy a year of happy work mornings today, just $5.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In March we’re exploring the theme The Pantoum.

Every Day Poems Driftwood


  1. says

    Love this, Tania. The images are wonderfully vivid. I especially like the contrast you draw at the poem’s end between the “burn out” of that red (there’s a kind of violence implicit there) and the exquisite tenderness with which the mother regards her child’s hair.

  2. says

    Tania, this has a bit of a cadence to it that mirrors life and death or the stroking/brushing of hair as I make my way through it. And i love the beginning marked by birth and the end by burn out. (as extinguishing a candle flame) The red images are vibrant and palpable. I love too the intimacy in the line where you take the red silks in your hand, there is an calming therapeutic motion ( when there are no tangles) of having your hair brushed as a child. This is glorious. Thank you.

  3. says

    Maureen and Elizabeth, thank you so much. I have allowed a bit of ambiguity with the “before they burn out” phrase. The implication of death bothers me, of course, as a mom, although I know “death” can mean many things. . .and those things I will leave up to the readers! :)

  4. says

    I keep sensing this; a mothers paintbrush creating on the canvas through words what miraculously has been created through her own self/ life/ living. I don’t know…. Very compelling. I love this.

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