The Heart Braid

A Slow Decay, Ashley Webster

My substitute mom massaged her threading hands

As substitute dad typed religiously on his Blackberry

She claimed I was finally ready for my soccer game

and even asked me how I liked it

I dragged myself over the hotel counter to stare into the mirror 

At the heart protruding out of the back of my head

I caressed the golden threads that felt scratchy like straw bales

My fingertips scraping over the taut woven strands

They traced the separation caused by my crooked and unlovable part

All the way down to the two braids that sliced open my back 

I had finally replaced my infamous boring ponytail

But soon my cowlicks undid all of substitute mom’s hard work

Maybe my hair wasn’t meant for braids

Or the braids weren’t meant for my hair

Either way, I was probably meant for a simple ponytail

Maybe my mom could do that.

About the Author

 Maya Greenquist · Missouri Southern State University

Maya Greenquist is a Junior at Missouri Southern State University who graduated from the American School in Japan in 2020. She is an Honors Biology Pre-Medicine major and plays Division II Women’s Soccer on campus. Greenquist is a huge proponent of the grey area between art and medicine and has been writing poetry that intertwines anatomy and true experiences for a couple of years now. “The Heart Braid” first appeared in Bordertown.

About the Artist

Ashley Webster · Christian Brothers University

Ashley Webster is a mixed media artist with an interest in printmaking and illustration that explores the relationships between people and nature. She is a passionate advocate for environmental education and tries to educate through her work. This piece first appeared in Castings. 

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