My hair twists in the night, wraps itself in curls that look like dread locks. I wake looking at this long hair beast of a woman--black streaked with grey, the wild unfocused eyes of the myopic, and a thirst for coffee that barks at those in the way.
I comb my hair into submission, spray some tamer on it, and sing it lullabies. Then I plait it and curl it around my head. Three years ago, I cut my hair less than an inch long, and now it is a foot and a half long. It covers me, gets into everything. Bathwater, and pillowcases. I find long black hairs on my children's tummies. As I pull them off, they giggle. My daughter stepped on a hair yesterday that went into her foot like a splinter, and I pulled it out with tweezers.
Even still, I am never cutting it again. I'll weave it into clothes around me and hide in the woods with my daughter. We will play rhythms on animal skins and collect herbs and wildflowers and sing the tales of our hairy people. We will raise a fox pup to be in our pack, and write poems to the ravens and wind. The boys will visit us with their long beards, and axes. There will be village tales of feral women with hair clothes cooking large pots of stews, which may or may not contain children, who play shaman drums to call you close, then feed you herbs and roots which make you see freedom. We are free, the four of us, and you too.
"I speak geese."
"You do?" I look at my daughter, dried flowers poking out from behind her ear. She looks like a winter goddess, cheeks tinted a fierce pink and her nose glistening with cold wetness.
"HONK!" She leans toward the geese, who turn to her. She looked just as surprised as me.
"What did you just say to them?"
"I don't underSTAND geese, I just speak it."
I sometimes feel the same way about humans. I don't underSTAND them. I just speak their language. We find feathers by the lake's edge. They are white and Beatrice claims they are from angels. I tell her she may be right, even though she just had a conversation with a white goose. We hang the feather in a nature board with leaves, dried flowers, Palm Sunday crosses, and even an evil eye protector. All of it reminds us of the life we could be living in the wood, hair to our feet, tying feathers in our hair, and herbs for our stew, and warding off domestication.
Winter suits me. The cold. The crunchy grass, the geese, the hibernating animals right below my feet, the large socks I use only for sleep. My husband's chunky, sexy, unkempt beard. The baby, who I can hardly call a baby now, is at that age where he wants nothing to do with me, but doesn't want me to leave the room. His mood reminds me of January. And I whisper, "My love for you will not change no matter what you think, say, or do." I mean that for all of them, particularly January. I wear crystals to protect me from winter's cold and the work I do in hibernation. They hide under my sweaters. My engagement ring and wedding band had been boxed and put in our safe since before Beatrice was born. They always fit wonky, maybe a little tight. But weight and edema and then weight and edema again forced them to be hidden symbols. A few weeks ago, we went to a jeweler, and he is remaking them for me. Thinner, more delicate, but stronger. It is a way of being I'm trying to embrace.
Everything is going to change for me in a few weeks. Winter changes always stick for me. I wrap myself in winter, blanketed in crisp grey skies and remember the drinking years. Winter was warm then, or rather I was numb. Now, every snowflake and wispy breeze breaks through my woolen cap. I freeze and shiver, and hurt, sometimes, but I am grateful to be alive and feel pain. Tomorrow, I am sober two years, and in a few months, home with the kids for five years, and just perfectly suited for everything changing.