Laws Governing Inheritance


At the symphony

             A violin-less woman spends minutes waking the dead

             My grandfather tells me he began balding around my age

             In pictures, his hair thins (as if sentient) on his wedding day, reaching from his scalp

                          he is maternal

If I were to start going bald, like my grandfather, I’d shave each thinning area of my scalp

             Begin with the halo1 he stubbornly combs each morning

                          Bibi trims in the kitchen

                          then the little hairs that protrude from the frontal region

                                       our only joke

There are so many theories for why we’re hairless

             Aquatic apes

             Color vision2

             Sweaty monkeys

My grandfather tells me he was out of the house around my age, both his parents and most his

sisters long gone

             I used to imagine him, for some reason, setting out, knapsack dragging against his


                          to work the oil mines in some far-away Egypt, pick-axe biting into the earth, chest

                          hair gleaming.

                                       Wish to envy this grandfather’s sense of agency

             Easier to imagine him this way

                          sad                                even before

                                  my mother died

             Nothing to lose

Worked a desk job

             Something in finance

I enjoy having control

             This is not a legal document

             Inheritance is not about having control

Nonetheless, I imagine what it must be like, awakening to that barrage of sound like angels,

             Like dying,


The violin-less woman begins to panic

             Raises her voice

                          is shushed

If my phylogeny were religion, I’d believe in a perfect blend3

             My mother’s rippling, darkening waves

             My father’s ice-blue eyes

                          blunder-headed Darwin

Better to think like a primate

             Adapting, aging, evolving

                          peeling hair from our palms

                          working instruments

                                       learning, for the first time, to make music

In grief, my grandfather can’t run his hands through thick, disheveled hair

             His sadness is colder closer to his scalp


             He’s been known to fall asleep at symphonies:

                          snore, then                    in a fit of panic


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