Let Down Your Hair by Carla Kirchner

Weigh my hair—three quarters of a pound dry, one and 1/4 pound wet. Add two-pounds of large pizza plus the cardboard, peppers, extra cheese. Count the damp air burdening the trees, the strange light from the street lamps, the neighbors prying eyes as my braid coils down to the waiting delivery driver. Figure in the two-for-one special on Tuesdays. Calculate the weight of Tuesday, the strength of my grip, my hand-over-fist pull of pizza attached to braid attached to scalp attached to blood and bone.

Account for the mass of memory—Johnny, the hole mother left, the air inside the hole at 0.0807 pounds per cubic foot, the entire atmosphere pressing down at 14.7 pounds per square inch at sea level, slightly less here in my tower. Tally the day I climbed the stairs. Compute the weight of trapped. Take the sum of bedroom, bathroom, basement, dust, cobwebs, my slow shuffle to the window, the stairwell’s fat mouth, the furnace and its hungry rumble.

Sally weighs approximately 115 pounds. She has a delicate touch when washing the deep valleys in my thighs, scrubbing and plaiting my hair, clearing the empty pizza boxes. She brings white bread (14 ounces/397 grams) and thinly-sliced deli meat once a week. A week weighs less than you might think, but more than a month. A year is nearly weightless.

Now measure darkness. The moon climbing in through my window. My slow melt into the mattress. My fear that the larger I get, the more I disappear.


Carla Kirchner is a poet, fiction-writer, and writing professor. She lives and works on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks. Her flash fiction has most recently appeared in Rappahannock Review.