Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Hair

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Hair

Article excerpt

Nanjing Massacre, 1937

Deserters were betrayed by calluses and crew cuts.

So he hid his head under black fungus and a shawl,

hobbling out a city gate in a slack dress.

The intruder yanked her up from under the bed

by the clutch of her hair;

she feared her torn scalp would never heal.

With her largest scissors

the seamstress sheared off her granddaughter's pigtails

to disguise her sex.

The family hid in the basement

but their store was looted and then put to the torch.

They all raced out, hair in flames.

The officer wore spectacles, and grinned ear to ear,

his sword in his right hand,

his left dangling a severed head by its hair.

Her gray robe, false teeth, and bald head

were of no protection

to ward off the old nun's rape.

The mistress found a photo of his sister in a knapsack;

as a surprise she permed her bangs in the same style

so that the captain would be reminded of home.

Wanting a souvenir of his conquest

the corporal chopped off the student's thick tresses

with his blood-stained bayonet. …

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