Woollen2 minute read

With art from Laylie Frazier 


I was first aware

Of my strange woollen hair

When my mother twisted it into three puffs

When colorful ribbons trailed down to my shoulders

I swung my head to and fro

With colors I carefully chose

And allowed the plastic tips to play music with my earrings

And glint in the springtime sun

I did not expect,

To cause such an upset

When I entered the classroom,

When I revealed my woollen hair

Over the laughs and taunts

My mind was fraught

It could not see what was so different about me

It led my trembling fingers to my hair

I pulled out the ribbons

And made a quick decision

I took to my mother a photo

I put my hopes in the image

A new vision of my future

With hair thick and straighter than a ruler

I said ‘I want to look like her’

I did not see that though her hair was black, her skin was not

My mother applied the medicine

And I perched over the bathroom basin

As I tightly clutched the picture

As one holds a promise of a future

I waited for days, weeks, years

To become my future and silence my fears

That my hair was stuck woollen

That I would never quite understand why they laughed

As time passed

I decided to give up the dance

I watched her in the mirror

I stepped into herself

And decided to love her fully

Even as her hair began to turn woolly

With untamed frizz

With unruly curls

I looked back on why they laughed

And realized it was down to chance

That my hair was woollen

That their hair was straw

And so I spoke to the wind on her behalf

To carry the music of her ribbons and HER laugh

So she would remember her colorful ribbons

So she would remember the springtime sun


Artwork ‘Wildflowers’ provided by Laylie Frazier, contact artist for prints.

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Naliaka Odera is a freelance writer, editor and social media consultant. She is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of ‘Of Africa’, an online platform that celebrates women of African descent while fostering editorial talent. She is a proud Kenyan who has lived in Belgium, Canada and Thailand. While in Canada, she earned a BA at the University of British Columbia. She has an ongoing love affair with words and loves great conversations as well as all genres of literature. Her writing can be found at www.naliakao.com. Through Of Africa and her consultation, she stresses the importance of people learning vital communication skills to be able to speak for themselves.