Poetry by | January 17, 2022

Waiting on a bench at Big Tom’s,
I watch the child riding a thin wooden horse,
staring at his own reflection in the mirror before him,
one hand holding a lollipop to his mouth.

The buzzing hair clipper starts grazing
the back of his head. And then against his sideburns
running its cold metal base up his scalp
in a slow, even motion,
following the shape of his head.

When I was his age, wide-eyed and baby powdered,
my father would bring me to Mr. Uy’s,
a cheap, run-down barbershop,
the one with dull scissor blades
and a hair clipper that stung
when hot metal base touched the skin.

As soon as the elderly barber
draped the white cape around my shoulders,
he would tip my head slightly forward
pressing the clipper shakily on my nape,
moving it upward along the back of my head.
No wooden horse, no lollipop to lure me there.
I could’ve jumped out of the barber chair,
and screamed my way out.

Now I come here alone and sit up straight on my seat
stiff as a Chinese ear picker.
I sit on my fear that if I move a little
the barber might snip off my ear
and I would bleed to death,
the voice of my father inside my head
cursing me for giving his words of advice
a deaf ear.

Chris David F. Lao lives in Davao City. He earned his BA in English Creative Writing degree from UP Mindanao and MA in English degree from Ateneo de Davao University. His works have appeared in Mindanao Harvest 4: A 21stCentury Literary Anthology.

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