Bending, I bow my head and lay my hands upon her hair, combing, and think how women do this for each other. My daughter’s hair curls against the comb, wet and fragrant— orange parings. Her face, downcast, is quiet for one so young.
I take her place. Beneath my mother’s hands I feel the braids drawn up tight as piano wires and singing, vinegar-rinsed. Sitting before the oven I hear the orange coils tick the early hour before school.
She combed her grandmother Mathilda’s hair using a comb made out of bone. Mathilda rocked her oak wood chair, her face downcast, intent on tearing rags in strips to braid a cotton rug from bits of orange and brown. A simple act Preparing hair. Something women do for each other, plaiting the generations.
Analysis: "Combing" by Gladys Cardiff is a poem about how women helped each other at all times. In the first stanza the author grabs her daughters hair ready to make a braid in her hair. Then, she describes how her daughters hair curls against the comb. After that, she says that her daughters face was down, and that was strange for a person so young. In the second stanza, it is as if the daughter is the one who wrote it. She says that she feels her mother braiding her hair and that the braids are really tight against her head. Also, she was seated near to the oven and she could hear it ticking before she went to school. In the third and last stanza, she says how she combed her grandmothers hair using a comb made out of bones while they were seating in rocking chairs made out of oak wood. She ends the poem by saying that it is one simple act that women due for each other that has gone through many generations.