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
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.