At this strange moment when you may be thinking about the time when you last had a haircut, here is a poem about a very first one. It is written by the Welsh poet Paul Henry and is one of a number of moving verses he’s written about paternal love, family ties and the need we all have for independence. It comes from his volume The Brittle Sea: New and Selected Poems (Seren) which is dedicated to his three sons.
Silent as cut hair falling
and elevated by cushions
in the barber’s rotating chair
this seven-year-old begins to see
a different boy in the mirror,
glances up, suspiciously,
like a painter checking for symmetry.
The scissors round a bend
behind a blushing ear.
And when the crime’s done,
when the sun lies in its ashes,
a new child rises
out of the blond, unswept curls,
the suddenly serious chair
that last year was a roundabout.
All the way back to the car
a stranger picks himself out
in a glass-veiled identity parade.
Turning a corner
his hand slips from mine
like a final, forgotten strand
snipped from its lock.
For more information about Paul Henry’s work, see: https://www.paulhenrypoet.co.uk/