McNair to Hall: September 19, 1979


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Sept 19, 1979
Dear Don —

I am extremely glad you like the poem, since I
was quite worried about it. I believe you about the
epigraph, I’m not sure about the word “yearning”
yet, but I’m thinking about it.

I hope you like the enclosed – please let me
know when you can. Both poems would be a
part of the revised book manuscript.

I’m sorry about the reading. If the coffers
were my own this year, I could perhaps have
dug deeper. Still, I appreciate the opportunity
you opened. I will mail the book tomorrow.

Today, at 4:55 PM, I am on my
way to the mail with this letter —

Thanks for everything —



On the soap opera the doctor
explains to the young woman with cancer
that each day is beautiful.

Hair lifts from their heads
like clouds, like something to eat.

It is the hair of the married couple
getting in touch with their real feelings for the first time
on the talk show,

the hair of young people on the beach
drinking Cokes and falling in love.

And the man who took the laxative
and waters his garden
next day with the hose
wears the hair

so dark and wavy
even his grandchildren were amazed,
and the woman who never dreamed tampons
could be so convenient wears it.

For the hair is changing people’s lives.
It is growing like wheat above the faces

of game show contestants opening the doors
of new convertibles, of prominent businessmen opening
their hearts to Christ, and it is growing

straight back from the foreheads of vitamin exports,
detergent experts, dog food experts helping ordinary housewives discover

how be healthier, get clothes cleaner and serve
dogs meals they love in the hair.

And over and over on television the housewives,
and the news teams bringing all the news faster
and faster, and the new breed of cops winning the fight
against crime, are smiling, pleased to be at their best,

proud to be among the literally millions of Americans everywhere
who have tried the hair, compared the hair and will never go back
to life before the active, the caring, successful, the incredible hair.

See a selection of McNair’s manuscript notes and drafts of “Hair on Television.”