To Agnes, the Patron Saint of Women’s Hair

When the Securitate would enter our house, my sister and I
would hide in the bathroom, the one where the tile and commode
and even the porcelain tub was pink, and tell each other stories.

There was the story of the gypsies who kidnapped
fair-headed children like ourselves, cut off a hand
or foot, then forced them to beg by the cinemas or bars.

We agreed to wrap our hair in dark scarves to not
be captured. A year later, we didn’t need to worry.
We were both so infested with lice that our Rapunzel hair

had to be shaved off. Now I tell her different stories,
of my friend, Jo, whose chemo treatments left her
almost bald, how her husband touches her head

reverently during the night when he thinks she’s asleep
and prays for her hair to grow back. That’s what hurts the most,
she says. To him, I am not whole. Neither of us believe in saints,

but I tell her of Agnes, whose naked body was paraded around town
by the man whom she refused to marry, how her hair grew
long and lush like a mantle to cover her from prying eyes.

But Jo leans against me and whispers, he hasn’t touched me
since the cancer, not like that. And I don’t know how to make things
right, how to hold her body with kindness. I tell her of the radiance

that emanates from her fingers when she sweeps them in arcs
over her head. It’s like you’re haloed. The laughter that this wrings
from her brings us both to our knees and then laying on the floor,

our hands arched over our bellies. I would choose death now
if I could; so I tell her the story of the whale calf who traveled
thousands of miles, following the ship of sailors that slaughtered

his mother. What I don’t tell her is that the wild will reclaim
its own. Instead, I offer a platitude You must tune your ears to now,
afraid of her diminishing choices, afraid of her soft incantations:

How lovely these ruins. How lovely to no longer inhabit them.


Simona Chitescu Weik is a poet and PhD candidate born in Romania, now living in Atlanta with her husband of six years and their wild & beautiful 2-year old daughter. She is currently working on her dissertation, embracing all the dimensions of mothering, practicing yoga for her sanity, and teaching college students the art of writing. She is also a graduate of the Allender Center Lay Counseling Training program, and has dreams of bringing story work into integration with her academic and artistic life. She is learning to embrace the inward paradox of death and resurrection.