I touch him more than I have to,
cupping his chin,
lingering along the back of his neck.
Bits of him frost the blue bathroom tile,
or drift to settle on my shoes.
Use the clippers, he barks,
not loud. He lets me do
my pseudo-salon scissors thing
with more patience
than he has ever shown in his life.
And I take advantage, making
each plane and curve an exquisite
physics to be solved. His big veiny ear
folds like a leaf under my touch.
Ain't you done yet?
This is for the caustic defiance
of high school.
This is for the indifferent drift of college.
This is for all the empty phone calls,
sports and church and weather.
The tufts in his ears, thick as hedges,
I mow them down. His eyebrows
could break the wire cutters back on the farm.
My scissors even reach in to trim
the damp caverns of his nose.
This is for when I was twelve,
and some fat farm wife, standing
beside the silo, said, "She still
in a coma, huh? I'd be in a coma too
if it'd get me out of housework." Uncrease the wattle, pull tight the fold
for the whine of a tired Norelco. His hand,
impatient. There. That's enough.
Towel, talcum, broom.
This almost final unction of Old Spice.