Skip to main content

Jamie’s Hair

ISSUE:  Spring 2008

For our son, a teacher of German, among the slain at Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007

  • He scooped it with deft, long-fingered hands and tamed it
    with an elastic band, or let it hang loose on the flat bony cliff of his back.
    His hair declared him his own bohemian, a middle-class free spirit
    with a mortgage to pay down, a racing bike, a subscription to Netflix,
    and a frau as deceptively frail as Hans Memling’s palest Madonna.
  • Married, he cut it but twice and only to give away.
    He then looked like a soldier or a monk—though neither calling
    set his mind afire as did the table saw or the digital collage.
    Long again, his hair gave him a faint resemblance to the rock star
    he aped at a party—“Famous Dead People”—two months before
    falling into his own celebrity, if only for fourteen minutes.
  • Riding shotgun in a dry-ice mental fog, I carried his hair
    back from the mortuary in a Ziploc freezer bag.
    Later, we Googled the guidelines of the organization
    to which we sent this salvaged relic of his immolated body.
  • Sometimes I try to picture its recipient, thinking on her world—
    a purple zinnia, a swim in the bell-shaped pool, a milkshake
    after chemo—but I see only his shorn head at the crematory door,
    serene as a bodhisattva, soon to kindle in a fire that will never consume
    our love, a fire his hair escaped to adorn the skull of someone younger—
    dying, but not yet dead.


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading