This is not Alopecia. This is grief. Lips pursed so only a little pray squeaks through because faith has left you. This is balding head, pale from months hidden behind a cleverly placed center part. This is Mr. Curtis blowing the reefer smoke from his mouth to your mouth, your mom doing a bump in the kitchen, while your baby brother lies curled at your feet, dreaming. This is lips pressed tight so only a little cry leaks through because the moan is soot blacking out the sun. This is a lava. Bubbling across the surface of your light skin and good hair that Mr. Curtis says will protect you from white folk’s hate as he is pressing the reefer smoke on your tongue with his tongue, your mother doing a bump in the kitchen, just one more, and your baby brother fussy in his sleeping curled at your feet. This is traitor. Pinning to the line what is best left to mold in the dark, carried in the side pocket, tucked quietly behind a cleverly placed center part like thatch of balding scalp. But this is not Alopecia. This is a pretty red sequin dress and strobe light slinking across your mother’s body, the most beautiful smart woman, in the kitchen with the other beautiful smart women in their high fashions sweet with Chanel No 5, cocaines on their grinning gums and acrylic nail tips, and you, in the other room, powder blue polyester back-to-school uniform pants pulled down to your ankles, bare belly pressed to the window that stares from a bedroom out over the hills and maybe even the Hollywood sign if you look way to the right, he says each time, but you are only eight years old and short for your age and see nothing rising above the darkness except Mr. Curtis making pictures of you, reefer smoke an ether in your brain, you are a star just like in the movies. This is heavy, the chain to a rusted anchor you wear cross-body like playing dress-up with your mother’s pocketbook. This is making your nerves bad. This, grown woman shit. I own this shit. I earned this shit. “Nah, Harpo, dis here my juke joint!” This, fork in the road at strongblackwoman and bullshit: using hands, feet, and teeth for purchase on rock with no promise of a ledge. This is shame. Light skin good hair marionette doll, stuffing like lava oozing from the seams, limbs jerking about to Parliament Funkadelic long playing record, through a haze of Mr. Curtis reefer smoke, and your mother’s bad math. How many free dime bags moored to your eight-year-old pussy? This is not Alopecia, this is fair trade. This is not Alopecia. This is trash, pulled to the curb. A knock at the door in the middle of the night. This is the rent come due – pay what you owe! This is not Alopeica. This is my mask, askew.
Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune disorder characterized by subtle to severe hair loss of the scalp and body due to inflammation of the hair follicle which causes it to go dormant.