SHE braids it in two heavy braids
That reach the carpet nigh;
And winds them crosswise, nape to crown,
To cross again and then come down
And cross again on high.
I watch with joy that never fades;
A fortunate man am I.
She twists it from a silken twist
Into a coil instead;
Each side it rests against her ear;
Its weight is on her collar clear,
Heavy it seems as lead;
A rope as thick as her good wrist
She fastens to her head.
She knots it in a Psyche-knot
That, like an ensign, stands
Behind her, just as if the wind
Had blown it out, not firmly pinned
The way she understands.
At times she seeks some refuge-spot,
Holding it with both hands.
Of its black-brown she builds a crown
No empress ever wore.
She threats each day to have it off
And save the work; at which I scoff
And — kiss her to restore
Good-humor; also praise her gown
As in the days of yore.
To styles not blind, she cannot bind,
As other women do,
That scented mass — that smells of wheat
And lavender and apples sweet —
She plies t he great combs through,
More lovely than all maidenkind,
A woman forty-two.
She counts each day the threads of gray;
(Where was I — yes, her hair!)
She kept it to the last; and dead
It made a pillow for her head
That made the women stare.
— But that was thirty years to-day.
And that’s her portrait there.