Watching my son in the barber’s chair

I don’t know what it is. Something about

the set of his shoulders, the curve of his neck, but

he’s suddenly older. A far cry from the baby who

wriggled and wept as the scissors snipped

round his ears, he sits in sombre silence, eyes fixed

on the mirror. I watch the back of his head.

From time to time he pulls a hand out from under

the black cape (“like Batman!” I’d cajoled hopelessly once,

waving the comics and sweets brought as bribery),

brushes away a stray hair from his nose or chin,

the briefest movement, because he knows to stay still.

He still turns, though, from the heat of the dryer.

At the end, she takes a mirror and shows him the back,

as she would with a man, and he nods,

in a sage sort of way, for all the world as though he’s had

in his short life a hundred haircuts, some good, some bad.

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