As at the winter solstice, when a faded blonde
On the brink of middle age, goes to the salon
To brighten up her outlook and her spirits
(Warm water on her scalp, the rich shampoo
That breathes of almond-blossoms), to submit
To another’s expert disinterested caresses,
While outside the plate-glass window, people push
Against the dwindling year, and lean into
The wind, their foreheads pinched with doubt and debt,
And it’s afternoon, but night comes chattering down
Like the shutters of a shop in a recession,
And all she asks for is a color adjustment,
For rays of honey to eclipse the grey,
And for the light to lengthen just a little.
The poem is from A. E. Stallings’s justly celebrated book of poems Like (Farrar Straus & Giroux; paperback 2019).