top of page

C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Things Only My Hairdresser Knows

By: Katy Shedlock

It seems that Russia will invade Ukraine

and so I feel I should get my hair cut

sit in Anastasia's chair at the cheap unisex salon

on Hamilton and Indiana

and ask her what she thinks.

For years now I've sat

under her shears in twenty-dollar,

twenty-minute increments,

as she tells me about her church

the big Anabaptist one downtown

and her kids, especially her son, Sasha,

who says to the Kindergarten teacher

after his mother leaves

"My name is Alex."

Later when I walk the dog and hear

fragments of Russian from roofers atop

the old houses in my neighborhood

I wonder if her husband is up there,

the conversational phrases I used to know

sliding like broken shingles

to the ground.

I tell her about the years I lived

on the other side of that enormous dead country

teaching English and seeing CCCP

faintly through the whitewash

on the gray brick walls.

My Peace Corps haircuts were all so stressful.

I ended up with mullets and one disaster

my fellow Americans called the Hillary Clinton.

There are so many words, but only one gesture

to describe what can be done with scissors and hair.

In my second year I got head lice from the village bath house

and sat on the creaking train through the steppe for two days

so that Brit and Megan could cut it all off

wash it in chemical shampoo

and slowly comb out the dead bugs.

I needed friends who knew me,

who gently removed the shame

by telling me funny stories

about Florida and Texas.

In my hometown I drive east down Boone Avenue

my little car rattled by winter's pits and potholes

guided by the shape of bare trees along the road,

to see Anastasia, my only living link

to my years in Kazakhstan.

She tells me happy women's day in March

and that her sister-in-law makes the best manti.

I wish she'd invite me over for dinner

or even just for tea and candies

from the Kiev Market

but I never ask.

My split ends fall to the floor

and I feel more whole when I leave

knowing someone else in my city

knows about these things.


Katy Shedlock is a pastor, poet, and RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Kazakhstan 08-10) in Spokane, WA. Her poetry has been featured online by Earth & Altar, Line Rider Press, and Pontoon Poetry.

"Spokane, Washington, my hometown, is also home to a large Ukrainian immigrant community. When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, I was inundated with memories of my Peace Corps service in Kazakhstan over a decade earlier. This poem attempts to explore the intimacies and missed connections of culture and place."


bottom of page