Valerie Wohlfeld: "A Dare"




Once you were captivated by my hair:

like foxes in their nest the red threaded

through the blond; like a muddy riverbed

the brown strand wound round the fair.  On the stair

your tread was soft upon the threadbare

rug.  I inhaled your aftershave, lightheaded;

your scent was in the air.  On a dare you said,

“I’ve brought the silver shears, let’s cut your hair.”


Now the foxes have no nest and run wild

in the field, now the dull river banks are dry,

now the uncommon thread among the blond is gray;

all my combs and barrettes lie futile,

combs of tortoiseshell and tiger-eye;

now it is you, not the silver scissors, that betray.



Valerie Wohlfeld's first collection of poetry, Thinking the World Visible, was chosen by James Dickey for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. Her recent book, Woman With Wing Removed, was published by Truman State University Press. Her poems have appeared widely in journals and magazines, including New Yorker, New England Review, Antioch Review, Yale Review, Partisan Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, The New Criterion, New Letters, Chelsea, Epoch, Western Humanities Review, Denver Quarterly, Quarterly West, Greensboro Review, Indiana Review, and North American Review.