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Asymmetrical haircuts

remind me

of Janice Stone,

my 6th grade band teacher.

At the end of

5th grade,

Ms. Stone

came into our class

right side of her head shaved

gradually descending

into a cascade

of tight kinky curls

on the left.

She met with students

interested in joining band class

one by one.

On the small desk

in the narrow hallway

various mouthpieces

and reeds

were splayed in front of her

a garden

of musical possibilities.

Most of the girls

already knew

they wanted to play

the flute or clarinet.

But I sat down assertively

and said

“I want to play the weirdest instrument.”

She smiled and said,

“I think you’d like the oboe.”

In the beginning,

five of us started with the oboe.

By mid-fall, I was the only one left.

I loved the oboe.

It came easily.

It was loud

and important.

Ms. Stone played

tuba and the bassoon.

She gave me weekly lessons

all through middle school.

Towards the end,

we would just play duets

as if she had nothing more

to teach me,

she just wanted to play with me

to share the joy

of double-reeded-ness

and harmony.


I still want to play the

weirdest, most important



Now, it’s my voice.

I need lessons

on how to refine it

amplify it

and believe in it.

Where is Ms. Stone when I need her?

Probably marching in some band

proudly playing tuba.

Marching distinctly

to the beat of her own drum.

One side of her head a bit colder

than the other.