The Barber's Hands

The barber’s hands

were wrinkled with experience,

steady with a blade, and a woman’s

waist. They smeared the pages in his favorite

books, and smoothed hot cream onto beards.


They grasped tightly around an orange

to make juice, and again, during the war,

when they embraced the soldier’s neck,

squeezing his last breath.


They were gentle when he slipped

the diamond on his fiancés hand,

and warm when he cupped

his newborn boy.


They clapped when his son ran

the winning touchdown,

and when his daughter

got third in the spelling bee.


He waved them around when he told a story,

and tapped them when he was nervous.

They once groped the neighbor’s breast.

They wiped his eyes when he confessed


to his wife. That night, he held them in prayer.

With them he wrote the will for his dying mother

and then carried her coffin to the grave. He wrapped

The scissors cautiously as he cut around my ears, and


when he was finished, they pulled off the cape,

and gently brushed the hairs away from my face.

Without saying a word I passed the money

between my fingers and his and nodded.


We shook hands.