Paula King (Victoria University of Wellington)
When she was little her mother would sometimes show her a lock of her grandfather’s hair. It was a ringlet lying in a long narrow box, wrapped in discoloured tissue paper and kept up high in her parents’ wardrobe. She remembers thinking how precious it was, how soft and fair and how unlike her grandfather it seemed. It reminded her of the long horse hairs she would pull from fallen birds nests. She doesn’t know what became of the ringlet or the box. Perhaps discarded along with her mother’s bag of rollers and the meat clamps she used to create waves.
When she was a teenager she would sometimes walk past her father when he was sitting back in his mushroom coloured Lazy-Boy chair and tap him a couple of times on his bald patch. They would laugh. He accidently scraped his head on the curtain rail edging in the caravan once, when they were on holiday. A thick layer of skin on his bald patch peeled off and he was left with a full moon of glistening reds, yellows, and all the translucent in-betweens.
One day in her early twenties she sat on the kitchen stool, the kind that has a step-ladder tucked up inside, and her dad got out the hair clippers that he used to cut her brother’s hair. He shaved one side of her head and someone took a photo, then he shaved the other. Someone later told her that his eyes were full of tears when he did it. She doesn’t know where the photo is now, maybe it too was discarded. Her hair grew back after months without chemicals but just when it did, they had to kill her marrow and so she plucked her new hair out in one sitting, stacked it in a small box and moulded a hollow in the middle just like she had done as a child, with bird feathers and broken twigs.
Paula King is presently interested in writing about the connections between people, place, time and memory, which pretty much covers anything! She is currently studying a Masters of Creative Writing at the Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University Wellington.