Taller Than My Hair – A poem for Parsha Tazria (Aliyah 6)

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If a man loses the hair on [the back of] his head, he is bald. He is clean.

As I look back on the generations of men
who’ve preceded me in this family tree

and even to many of the ones who
still breathe on its branches

one truth runs through our blood –
hair is not forever.

Most of us start out bald (regardless of gender)
so returning there in the latter third of our time

on this dirt should not cause an alarm.
I’m lucky enough to not have been too

overtly afflicted with a scalp reflecting the sun
into the eyes of strangers and friends alike.

But every little change seems to be
the first thing anyone wants to talk about.

Just a touch of gray and it doesn’t matter
if I just cured cancer, that’s the observation.

One person I hadn’t spoken to in decades
showed up digitally to comment on

the prominence of my forehead in
every picture I posted.

So nice to reconnect with you.
I guess that’s why they invented hats.

I’m praying to be like my great-grandfather
Reuben ber Pelitz from the old country.

He went on to be the first Hebrew teacher
in Syracuse, New York, and the one picture

I’ve seen of him has so much on his head it looks
like his hairline proceeded instead of receded.

I take comfort knowing an eventual smooth head
won’t merit expulsion by the Rabbis of old.

One flick of the news and I’m reminded
there’s so much more to worry about.

These poems are offered free for your enjoyment. If you use them as part of an event, meeting, educational or liturgical setting, please consider tipping the author.

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