Let’s Talk Poetry: When Love is a Haircut

September 8, 2013

Neil Carpathios

Contributing Columnist

Sometimes the smallest things embody the love between two people. It is easy to take for granted the time and care shown in a simple act, and how it can contain more than meets the eye. I remember how my mother would let me “help” her bake when she’d ask if I could clean the mixing bowl by licking out the excess icing (tough job, but someone had to do it). I also remember my father pointing out and naming the stars in the yard one summer night because I asked him to while the rest of the family watched television inside, the show that he also had been waiting all evening to watch. They gave those moments to me. I remember my daughter as a little girl handing me a shiny stone she found in the yard, saying “for you, Daddy, keep it.” I remember the time years ago when my son brought in the mail for the first time by himself making the long journey from mailbox to house, the look of pride on his little face. Moments. Simple acts. Treasures within treasures.

In the following poem by Bruce Guernsey, we see how the poet realizes not only the passage of time, but the love and tenderness of his wife in the process of a haircut:

For My Wife Cutting My Hair

You move around me expertly like the good, round

Italian barber I went to in Florence,

years before we met, his scissors

a razor he sharpened on a belt.

But at first when you were learning, I feared

for my neck, saw my ears like sliced fruit

on the newspapered floor. Taking us back in time,

you cleverly clipped my head in a flat-top.

The years in between were styles no one had ever seen,

or should see again: when the wind rose

half my hair floated off in feathers,

the other half bristling, brief as a brush.

In the chair, almost asleep, I hear the bright

scissors dancing. Hear you hum, full-breasted as Aida,

carefully trimming the white from my temples,

so no one, not even I, will know.

Address poem submissions and correspondence to: ncarpathios@shawnee.edu or Neil Carpathios, Shawnee State University, Dept. of English & Humanities, 940 Second Street, Portsmouth, OH 45662. (740-351-3478).