It’s a ritual. Every moon and a half
we set up temporary shop
and the proprietor sits me down
wrapped in threadbare towels.
I daren’t move a muscle
as she springs the clipper’s switch
and bee’s teeth nibble at my cranium.
She’s as gently peremptory as a pro –
Head up. Head down. Stop smiling.
The tickle of the scissors
around the feathers at my ears;
an inadvertent touch to my neck
shooting synaptic stimulation
in every which direction.
She’s barbered me for so long
I don’t recall the last time I felt
the extra freshness of city air
at my short back and sides.
Though once in need when she was
moonlighting in Vermont
I stepped as of old inside a shop
signed by the red and white helix.
Waiting eyes eyed my lack
and evidently wondered why.
Helix-faced I turned and fled,
to cool my heels, await her return
as I should have known to do.
Now once again blue-grey eyes
align to hazel-brown. But where
she knew every contour, every
square inch of my misshapen scalp
and over long years had become
the shrewd cartographer of what
lay beneath, today as scraps of me
fall, and I collect them on my lap,
she no longer knows who I truly am.