Hairline — Carrie Greenlaw

Lots of things come and go—the last bowl
from our wedding set cracked but did not shatter.
The other seven spit shards at the dump, still pyrex
white and hopeful where the flowered rim remains.

Now I eat alone, spooning cereal

from the final bowl.
A hairline crack emerges from pooled milk
like the trembling antennae of a centipede.

It’s human to loathe

a liver-colored string of legs
galloping up the shower wall.
I only killed centipedes until I read
they can live to be seven years old.

Anything that lasts that long

deserves a little commendation.
Lots of things can outlast a marriage.

Every spring the centipedes feather

30 syncopated legs out of the basement
in search of something better.
Twice a year like clockwork my hair
falls out in clumps.

Stress, the doctor says.

Silver streaks the dust bunnies and tangles
the legs of the centipedes as they crawl out
the opened door.

I wash the cracked bowl in the sink,

careful with this tin-hearted soldier.
Running my fingers through the dishwater,
they tangle with my own fallen strands,

until they are webbed

like seaweed
ensnaring the unwary.


Carrie Greenlaw is a poet and artist from the North Side of Pittsburgh. Her work has been published in The Pittsburgh Poetry Review and River and South Review. She lives low and lives slow.