How could she?
I had asked for a haircut,
"One inch off, all around,"
and she expertly,
skinned me;
her first clip over the ears
showing I was to be shorn;
How could she?

I had talked pleasantly,
for this was my first appointment,
of my grandchild,
of my 23-year-old daughter,
of visiting my mother
and then,
I was finished -
wisps where waves had curved
and she swept up the hair she had cut from off my head;
How could she?

I had to wait then for a ride
and listened as she cut another's hair:
"How is your daughter?"
the steady customer inquired,
and I, leafing with boredom
through a yellowing movie magazine,
heard her heart.

"They needed a marrow sample last week
and they couldn't find the marrow;
poked and poked
for hours;
The head nurse said she would not let them
treat HER child like that,
but how was I to know 'til later?
She's lost a lot of weight,
she gets depressed;
my son-in-law tells me not to worry -
but I worry;
she's the only one I've got."

   The only one,
riddled with leukemia;
at 23 counting months,
not for a baby's birth nor wedding anniversary -
counting months until the next checkup,
the next probing,
the next hope,
knowing the months will become days.

While her mother cuts,
does comb outs,
flings clips,
sprays sprays
and tries not to worry -
while I talk of a grandchild and a visit to my mother;
the scissors starts over my left ear,
insuring I will look like a martyr or a monk.

How could she not?

Haircut, Denver, CO 1975
Hope Publishing House

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