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.