• Veronica Taylor

Nappy Chronicles Part 1

When Mommy did my hair,

She kept me locked between her knees.

A cup of water sat on the dresser,

rubber bands held between her teeth,

“Dr. Miracle’s” on her fingers,

And a clear sparkly box sat on the floor

holding ribbons and beads.


How I used to cry out!

I’d try to wiggle out of her cruel thighs.

my pleading and begging met with

pops to the mouth.

Mommy don’t know what tenderheaded is.

Her hair been permed since 3.

That’s the way her mommy wanted it.

But for me,

she let me be nappy.

While girls at school had “Just for me”

And clip in ponytails,

I had afro puffs

And box braids.

My hair didn’t flip.

My hair didn’t fall.

My hair didn’t smell like

Strawberry shampoo and mangoes.

My hair stood still.

My hair made shapes.

My hair smelt like

Beeswax and Murrays.

“Taylor’s got puffballs.”

“Your hair feels like cotton.”

“Your hair don’t grow.”

“You’re hair’s stinky”

And that carried on til 12.

“I’m too old for puffballs.”

That’s what I told mommy.

“I’m in the 6th grade now.”

And daddy agreed.

From there,

It began.

The first time I wore my hair straight

for school.


I was familiar with the hot comb.

I had the burn marks to prove it.

But this day I got acquainted with the “flat iron.”

We go to a woman’s house near high point.

I don’t remember her name,

But I remember she was kind.

She was dark,


And friendly.

She noticed my excitement.

After some chatter,

She brought me to the kitchen sink.

My mom sat in a chair watching.

Her hands massage my scalp so gently.

Mommy fussed at me when she washed my hair,

But “the lady”

she was soft.

She brought out a blow dryer

and comb.

I never seen my hair so fluffy and big.

I felt like baby Michael Jackson.

“ABC 123”

I hummed.

She untwirled the wire of the flat iron.

Plugging it in and leaving it on a small towel

while it heats.

“You ever had heat in your head?”


I say shyly.

“You’re a jumper?”


Mommy said shaking her head.

And it began.

She took her rat tooth comb and

Pulled out a piece of hair to straighten.


“I ain’t even touch her yet.”

She said to mommy.

“Stay still sweetie.”

And I tried.

I squeezed my eyes real tight.

I didn’t JUMP so much.

But I did shake

At bit.

The time went on.

The time went on.

It smelt like...


It smelt burnt.

But that’s a good smell.

It means it's working.

The time went on.

The time went on.

“Finished. Let me bump these ends.”

She hands me the mirror.

My face greasy as ever,

I look like James Brown.

That’s what I thought in my head.

I look like James Brown.

But it was straight.

So, it's pretty.

I shook me hair.

My hair flips.

My hair falls.

My hair is straight.

My hair is pretty.

“You look so pretty.”

Said mommy.

“You like it?”

“The lady” said.


I say shyly.

“Tell her thank you.”

Mommy nagged.

“Thank You.”

I say.

I skip to the car.

My hair moves.

My hair bounces.

Me and mommy get Hibachi

for the first time.

That was the “first’s day.”

I couldn’t wait for school.

I dressed real cute.

A skirt and ballerina flats.

I walk into school

And the girls love it.

“I love your hair.”

“Taylor’s hair is shinny.”

“You look pretty today.”

And from that day,

It began.

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