The Baltimore Sun

The chances are very good that you are within a thousand yards of a man with a comb-over, and he may even be somewhere in your house. Here's the Maine poet Wesley McNair, with his commentary on these valorous attempts to disguise hair loss.

- Ted Kooser

"Hymn to the Comb-over"

How the thickest of them erupt just

above the ear, cresting in waves so stiff

no wind can move them. Let us praise them

in all of their varieties, some skinny

as the bands of headphones, some rising

from a part that extends halfway around

the head, others four or five strings

stretched so taut the scalp resembles

a musical instrument. Let us praise the sprays

that hold them, and the combs that coax

such abundance to the front of the head

in the mirror, the combers entirely forget

the back. And let us celebrate the combers,

who address the old sorrow of time's passing

day after day, bringing out of the barrenness

of mid-life this ridiculous and wonderful

harvest, no wishful flag of hope, but, thick,

or thin, the flag itself, unfurled for us all

in subways, offices, and malls across America.

Ted Kooser served as U.S. poet laureate, 2004-2006. Poem copyright 2006 by Wesley McNair. Reprinted from "The Ghosts of You and Me" by permission of the author. This column does not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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