I just had the best haircut of my life. He wasn’t some teenager at Great Clips who talks to you about her newest boyfriend or his political opinions. He was a small, old Japanese man who smelt like he’d been lying in bed all day wearing deodorant.

He cut to my temples with huge shears more accurately than anyone has with an electric razor. He molded the pubic hair that grows from my scalp into a seamless brown helmet. Then he leaned the chair back and shaved every part of my face, including my forehead and ears.

At times I couldn’t tell the difference between the sharp fingernails he used to pull my skin taught, and the steel razor he gripped like a man stranded in a bunker in the First World War, sure to die.

In some frame of mind I came close to death.

Instead he washed my hair and gave me a bag of peaches, and I rode my bike home standing up the entire way, freezing and feeling like Jesus. I hope that old man lives forever, because when you do something that well, it matters.

This poem was shortlisted for the 2013 Bridport Prize

Photo Credit: Dean Hochman//CC BY 2.0

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