The softness and slippery texture of human hair in water or mud is that
of algae. The deep mute red of algae subduing the acridity of salt. The
dazzle and gleam of the Dead Sea. Mounds of salt heaped high, blinding in
the light. Salt everywhere. Any witch could float in this water, buoyed
by her own red hair. My father took pictures of my mother at the Dead Sea:
she is in a red and black bathing suit, floating on her back, hair streaming
outwards in rays. It is rather frightening--she is so determined to float,
to show how the water buoys her up indefinitely.
Long after we were sitting in the shade, she was still in the water, marvelling
at us, showing us what a strong swimmer she was. When she comes out I look
at her fingers--the whorls are like prunes,the skin is crumpled and white.
She bought jars of cleansing mud made from the minerals of the area and
I remember that she and Wystan would lie in the armchairs, faces caked with
a bluish-brown clay, their longish hair slicked back with water, acting
like two old women, talking and shrieking about nothing.
My father and I never joined them. Our hair was always short, our expressions
unmuddied and we never knew what to say so we buried each other neck deep
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