Barberism / by stephenherronold

Red and white stripes
Tell us we're there.

My father walks me up
The creaking wood stairs
Bent here and there
From the leaden feet
Of ten thousand shaggy men.

At the top of the hill,
A line of strangers sit
Reading "Punch"
Or old newspapers
All men.
This is the Barber's,
Not a hairdressers.

The paintings on the wall are for sale.
The place smells of old man,
Of hair tonic and stringent things, 
A hint of alcohol and aftershave

I see blades.
Sharp things. 
Devices for cleaning.
It feels like a doctor's office.
Nothing good ever happens there.

The snickersnack of steel, 
Scissors sneak around, 
Cutting, biting, snipping,
The tense anticipation
Of careless nick and stab.
Sitting on a small bench
Balanced across the arms Of the giant chair
That I'll fill one day,
But today, I'm only six.

His fingers are a vice
Ice-cold, in control.
Turning my head
This way and that.
In silence.
It hurts.

I stare back at the be-cloaked boy
In the mirror.
The scissor-man doesn't see him.
Just hair to be cut.

The black and white tiled floor
Looks like an endless chessboard, 
Ten thousand fallen soldiers
Scattered all around.

They get brushed away at the end.