[Persian original]

We are sitting next to each other

Scissors and combs play with our hair.

A revolving chair raises you to my level,

And a big wall mirror joins us together.

When I look at you, I see myself

And when I look at me, I see you.


I wore eyeglasses back in Iran.

Soluki’s apprentice would take them off

And I worried where he would put them

The counter under the mirror

Was filled with ghostly forms:

Small brass mugs and big sharp razors,

brushes, clippers, and soap bars.

When I got up

I would say: “Where are my glasses?”

And put five rials in his palm.

He would smile and say: “Can’t you see?”

And place the flexible arms around my ears.


Irene asks: “How do you want his hair cut?”

I say: “I like it short, but you’d better ask him.”

You turn the pages of a magazine

And point to a picture.

I could have either a German or crew cut

Ajami the principal did not like long hair.

One summer I wore sideburns

And let my hair touch my shoulders.

On the first day back to school

He stood at the gate

And sent me home.

I did not return for two weeks.


I tell Janet: “No hair on my ears.”

And I uncover my hands from the white smock.

Son-of-a-gun always wounded the back of my neck

He did not want to use a new blade.

I cried silently

He wet a piece of cotton with alcohol

And rubbed it on the cuts.


I asked my mother:

“What if Soluki himself gave me a haircut?”

Once a month, early in the morning,

He came to our house with his handbag

And put his bicycle in the hallway.

While he was giving my father a haircut,

I would bike to the end of the street

Ten times, belly-style. (1)


Janet gives me the hand mirror.

Without looking at myself, I ask:

“Could you trim my eyebrows?”

I remove bits of hair from my face

And feel the coolness  of mountains

Around my cheeks and ears.


Irene calls to me:

“Should I use gel on him?”

You looked at me directly.

Tavakoly, the doorman, always used gel after a shower

And street dust stuck to his hair.

You say: “It’s cool

I want my hair to stand up

Just like Superman!”

Happily,  I am not a principal.

I ask: “Is it easy to use?”

Irene puts some gel on her palm  

And combs your hair back.


When we leave, I say:

“Back then, I plucked hair from my temples

To look like a grown-up.”

You laugh and let the light

Shine on your face. (2)

by Majid Naficy
October 26, 1995
[Persian original]

1. “Belly-Style” (Tu-Deli): Children who cannot reach the bike pedals from the seat, cross a leg to the opposite pedal beneath the crossbar.

2. This is a revised version of my poem first published in my collection of poetry Father and Son, Red Hen Press, 2003.

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