Claire Bateman


Consider the formal requirements of the braid.
The hair must be imagined as not only non-unitary,
but tripartite as well;
the strands must be pre-visualized as twisted & interlaced:
over, under, around, between, in an unbroken pattern;
the problem of securing the tip must be foreseen & overcome
by conceptualizing a flexible filament that loops around itself.
To imagine all this, one must have already mastered
the theories of unraveling & release;
binding & protection;
predestination & free will;
wave action,
narrative resolution,
& the rupture of the trance state.
The distance between complete braidlessness & the first braid
was astronomical compared to the scarcely noticeable gap
between the simple braid & the double braid,
the herringbone braid,
the warhorse's mane plaited with tiny bells,
braided tiaras with feathers & floating tourmalines,
the bobbin,
the shuttle,
the cotton gin,
Bob Marley,
the polynomial,
modal jazz harmonics,
& the thirteen simultaneous plotlines
of General Hospital.


I have been obsessed with braids ever since my childhood imaginings of Rapunzel, Pocohantas, et al. My own braids, however, are limp, skinny, continually-disintegrating entities who feel nothing but shame that I have chosen to write about their more robust relations.