The Haircut

While I know this road is not my river,
and while I’m aware I cannot plunge
my arm into the cracked cement and feel
the chill scurry up into my shoulders,
and while the gas pedal under my foot
tells me that it is my car I ferry across
the current of traffic and not a canoe,
as I approach the confluence of Lake Drive
and Oklahoma Avenue from the north,
I can think only of the Rappahannock River.
I am driving home from the barber, where,
dear friend, I met a ghost of my former self.
Pessimistic, chipped, sick of this and that—
of lousy friends and twelve-dollar burgers,
of his asshole brother who proposed
while his girlfriend lifted the full trash bag
from the bin—our conversation wilted
to a coral-blue liquid sterilizing combs.
Ghost of myself, I wanted to say, go away.
There is no more time for anger. Once,
I threw a bicycle into a swimming pool.
Once, I cussed a woman. Today, I paid
a man to cut my hair that was as unruly
as when I worked on the river—
simple as that. I was poor then (I still am),
and jaded. The woman I loved
was a second-story window in a house
I’d drive by occasionally, then cry.
Sometimes you hate life for what it becomes.
Hopefully, you wake up and find love
in a cheap sandwich on white bread
as you float across flat water, or while
the curlicues of your hair fall to the floor.
I almost asked the man if I could sweep
the hair and bring it home. He said it looked
like someone had shot an animal.

Author: Timothy Shea