soft spot // Emily Fink

the other day i took my brother’s brush with copper bristles and pulled it through his coarse, copper strands. his head leaned back into my hand holding brush, and i pushed, scratching his scalp and he tells me i do the best job out of all the people who brush his hair. i know he’s right because i take my time to scratch every inch of his scalp with the copper bristles.

another day i sat in my bed with a bubble in my throat and the sky darkening too early (in my opinion). i wanted the bubble to burst and so i fingered through my list of subjective, upsetting facts about my life, waiting for the soft chord to be hit (tears). no luck, and as i was leaving the moment, i thought of the absolute pleasure of someone running their fingers through my hair. fantasizing about:

the tugging of my scalp

and curling the tips of my locks

in their fingers.

the touching,

actually, the grazing,

the intimacy in allowing

someone to push/pull/tug.

finally the burst

or maybe sting,

really bursting,

came all at once and

finally I sobbed

fantasizing friendship, honestly.


i even looked at my best friend’s hair the other day and i began the same fantasy—of letting her hair fall in between my fingers, weaving it, then letting the braid unravel. i watched her hair and i didn’t reach for her--i kind of hoped she would reach for me instead.

sometimes i feel my spirit so intensely it stings like over steeped black tea in my mouth. i’ve been trying to acknowledge how often i consult my spirit that resides dually in heart and stomach throughout my day.

how i process experience and information,

feed it to my stomach,

drain it,

letting it dry,

and then consulting

the sediment and residual

tea leaves to understand.

i’m trying to be this

“reader” (read: “writer”)

and i practice carefully

with breath, intention,

reading people and spirits, energy

all day.


i’ve been lonely lately (can’t you tell?!). on the off days (most) i feel forgotten by you.

i’m trying to remember you in the soft spot, right in between being monitored, policed, (think hyper vigilance) and that part where you’re not represented in our collective, memory, media. you’ve become painfully visible and absolutely forgotten at once.

i realize this often makes who you are null and void

like how if i wrote your name

on your body

it’d be the same as

--writing VOID on a check--

it’s awkward because

this soft spot, void speaks to

who you are but can’t be:

when who you are remains prophesy

because it is not yet reality.

the absolute pull of potential yet


this soft spot,

where your name is pronounced,


on your body,

becomes a bedrest for nothing:

it is also probably exactly where you

feel most yourself?

I’m sorry.


I’m sorry that who you are is at the crux of where society won’t allow you to exist.


thinking of brushing, combing, pulling, scratching, through my brother’s hair

i tried to find the poetry in it

where is,

the connection?

where can i take my fingers

and untwist a web,

and re-thread it into


i think when i saw

all of his hair falling out so easily

from stress,

from difficulty,

from being null,

from his resistance

by existing!

despite everyone erasing him

from entrances,

from their friend circles,

from deep connection.

i realized, me too.

me too, I have also been denied entrance

i have also been denied my femininity

my intimacy

i have been denied connection.

and when i played

with his hair,

i realized that when i was lonely,

i wanted, needed someone to

comb, scratch, tug my soft spots too.

i realized that when i was lonely,

i wanted, desired to

to be tender.

i realized that when i was lonely,

i wanted, valued

my hair being played with too.

who knew brutal force sometimes is taking a shower after four days? Or letting myself “buy” (with my credit card) food because i’m too sad to eat anything that i make with my own hands?


the last day i heard my parents discuss my brother’s hair scattered on the floor, clumping in the brush, scaly from no conditioner. it’s stress, it makes me worried, they say. my dad said maybe it’s because he just uses shampoo to wash my brother’s hair, no conditioner. i begin to think of my special, expensive conditioner and wetting my brother’s hair with it, rubbing the ends (trim them too probably!), and not rinsing it out right away.

instead i’d let the cream bubble, foam, soak in because it’s been too long. then we would rinse, cleanse, dry, so that his hair would fall out a little less, shine more.

i realized that when i was lonely,

we need, would enjoy

wedding romance with friendship,

exploring our collective femininity with intimacy,

whispering while widening.

we would tremble a little bit,

but it would be absolutely delicious

and perfectly hard.


Emily Fink originates from Saint Paul, Minnesota and recently re-located to Brooklyn, NY to work as a social worker in the Manhattan Family Court System. Emily is unsure of what she wants to do for her career (life), but has found comfort in that her love for cheese pizza remains the same regardless of where she ends up.


"Untitled" by Jack Davies





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