One Hybrid by Nicole Oquendo

They, There

I hold my growing hair and imagine it braided out of sight, the way my fingers would swirl, encasing the ruin like charging a spell, except I can’t braid at all, I’m not deft enough, and 

once I asked my father’s ex wife to braid it for a trip, where I felt like a dignitary getting off the plane, with red red hair, also check out these vinyl boots, the same ones I wore to climb a mountain that week with my father, and 

she did it, I was home, but in the way you only know a place through some kind of generational memory–and what is memory anyway but all of our pain pressed so tight every new soul bounces off, pretending to be fresh, then my mother teased my hair and 

I was fresh, earned slaps across the mouth, but who knows when and how many, times charge inside the deviation in my septum I only notice winding the ring there, and 

the thing that hurts sometimes isn’t the hands, but the words, and my mother’s gasp when last week I told her I hadn’t cut my hair in eight months, her pride, while I pleaded listen, it hurts, it’s a nest, the headaches are so frequent and 

the inside hurts too, not looking like myself, wanting to look like nothing, wanting to bounce past the conversation–not a man’s cut or a women’s cut but a nothing cut, neither, please help me disperse and 

I loathe the symbolism of it all, letting down my hair like some kind of lost princess when we all know I’m wrong for that other than my mother, who still calls me her beautiful daughter 

and the gastrointestinal doctor’s assistant who checks my blood pressure without a machine to back her up, she’s something else, she sees me and 

there is it again, your hair, it’s so long and beautiful, and I spin around myself and 

die right there, another death, before the inevitable, because who can see me, they, underneath

 

Nicole Oquendo is a writer and visual artist that combines these elements, along with magical practice, to craft multimodal nonfiction, poetry, and fiction, as well as translations of these forms. Their work can be found in numerous literary journals, a hybrid memoir, and six chapbooks, including their most recent works: Space Baby: Episodes I-III and The Antichrist and I