The Unbearable Loneliness of Shaving

In my bathroom.
Mirror facing me.
I foam up my face,
Razor in hand.

I remember…
I don’t know how to do this.
But I might have seen daddy do it once,
In-between wars he had to fight
for our country and our allies.

I remember hearing it once,
the satisfying swishing sound of gliding blade on his stubbled chin,
like a scythe through a patch of barley,
I, standing behind him in silence…
bearing witness to tracks of exposed chocolate brown
beneath a foam of white cream.

I wanted to ask him to teach me,
But there was never time…
Always another war to fight,
Another army to lead.

This morning I stand here
in this crispy cool bathroom,
razor in hand, foam on face,
feeling the inadequacy of not knowing what he’d have taught me about a razor
were there no wars to fight,
or distance between our wants.

My wounds of unheld conversation
have scabbed into attentive listening when I’m in the barber’s chair…
He, a man of many words,
tells me fondly of his beautiful children in Nigeria wanting so much from him… him giving it…
And calling often, even when he’s fighting his own wars while wielding a blade to attend to my need.

Written by Frank Malaba

Image by Frank Malaba

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