One day I take a little razor and shave it all off.
Looking obscenely young, I admire myself,
head bent or staring forward in a mirror.
Cool and young and sexy,
I’m available, stripped to possibility.
Discover me or I need to discover myself.
For in the shower every drop of water is felt.
I am exposed and experience it as an intrusion.
Hair is an extra layer of skin, a means not to feel.
Being now so naked I sense my modesty even with clothes on.
Edge a blade across my most intimate skin,
a clean, marble look, with a slight rose glow.
By evening, there is a blue tinge,
little heads below the skin,
a female five o’clock shadow.
Shaving then isn’t an option.
It speeds growth and thickens the bush.
It leaves a latent feel of uncleanliness.
I try waxing a stylish square of hair.
Return to a woman where I don’t mind unfolding my legs.
She touches without fearing the smell of me.
Obviously one showers comprehensively
before such an intimate appointment.
She cleans me up and pats me dry like a baby.
But after, the sides are red,
the pores stand out,
little specks of blood where tough hairs were extracted,
discolorations in the soft folds between thigh and pelvis,
a bikini wax gone wrong, the sensitivity
of my pubis renders it unsightly.
After a number of days the region temporarily
settles into cinematic perfection.
Before the hair grows out, still too short to redo.
There’s an acid lotion that eats away the hair.
You smear it on like cream,
scrape it off with a pink plastic tool,
scared to burn your fingers
while lathering it directly on intimacy.
It stinks of putrefaction and dissolution of tissue.
Why complain, professionals say,
laser hair removal is permanent.
Permanence sounds traditional. I flee.
Initially when I decided to tidy up pubic hair,
I was told, there are styles, you need to choose an identity.
Do you want nothing,
a strip of hair,
If you leave some, will it be trimmed or naturally curled?
People like to say, au naturel, as if it’s funny
or an aesthetic choice to be yourself.
Hair has a life of its own. It splits,
two hairs per root.
It bursts through the surface, pubescence vying with maturity.
Or it won’t grow at all, sticking beneath the skin,
a type of pelvic acne. I read somewhere,
who cares, just pop them as you’d do on your face
I’m shocked, can’t believe what I see.
It’s all about surface.
To do with connecting the inner and outer planes
of body, while also destructing
the flatness of skin.
When hair is removed, uniformity is installed.
Feeling the leg, so smooth, but empty.
One-sided touch, a hand running along skin,
but body not reaching back.
Surface can mean that which is obvious,
or that which is not obvious at all.
Like the area of my visible body, a first superficial layer.
Like what still needs to surface, what is hidden deeper.
It’s in submission then, with a gesture of penitence,
that one day I start removing my body hair one by one,
plucking each out with a pair of tweezers.
The guilt of imperfection weighs me down.
I sense that my body is in the wrong.
It should be crystal clear.
By Klara du Plessis, from Wax Lyrical (Anstruther Press, 2015)