Telogen Effluvium

William Brewer

Fall 2018

Something happened—
said the derm after I explained how,
for weeks, my hair kept falling.
He said to think back a few months.
I said that my grandmother died in August
and he said that’s not traumatic enough,
I said that my father had surgery in April
and he said that’s too long ago,
but that regardless of what happened,
the shedding had stopped—
and I felt briefly sad at the thought
that what I’d just learned had begun
was already finished, and how many other things
were beginning that I had no idea about,
and then, because of blond hair and freckles
and my great-uncle having died from melanoma,
he asked me to undress, stepped out,
stepped back in, and how dignified it felt
to be looked at like that, to be read,
a record of past exposures
becoming a map to possible futures,
though I’ll only get to see
the one of them, the one I’m in now
as I walk into the harbor cove
past clapboard and rusting lobster pots,
out onto the spit of land
where there stands the home
of the famed local landscape painter,
built almost two centuries before,

William Brewer is the author of I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017), winner of the National Poetry Series. A former Stegner Fellow, he is now a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.

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