Selections from, Lamp Poems
The lamp was discovered when the first woman held a word so long in her mouth, it was subsumed into her gums.
This abnegation lit the skin-- the first cosmetic. Also,
the first lamp.
Lamps with a wick of hair were popular in 1849. All hair of the bride-to-be, all hair adept at falling onto anyone’s collar, all hair stolen sideways into the mouth during sleep (like a ribbon one may pull to prompt the tongue) was shorn and plaited into individual plaits.¹ The hair was laid into a decorative box made of resinous wood, or struck with
little squares of inlaid mirror. Our future groom selected one plait from this cloister to replace the cotton wick of his plain bedside lamp. A boiling smell (superb!) ensued as the lamp was lit. All at once, our groom noticed the stone-like braid on his ottoman, the blunt, cut hair of his velvet rug-- he experienced what can be only described as an extreme startlement of hair within every item long succumbed to his purchase. When the plait-wick finally did burn out, it was always with a piercing snap, like the click of a tongue, or a lid blown shut.²
__________________________________________________ ¹ How did these brides, living years beneath such broad bowers of hair, appear in the scalp at the lectures,dances and operas which were their prime enjoyments? Much like the toes of far-eastern women, the hairof these brides was likewise muted-- and the brides likewise revered. ² The bride’s scalp was wrapped in a pale scarf to be unwound by her husband, who would revel in the sight of each patchy, inarticulance of new growth.