“…poetry is a way of happening, a mouth”—W.H. Auden
We watched the ‘How to’ DVD.
Any eejit can do that, says I,
and me still drunk from the night before.
It started well. Half-way through — the hangover set.
When the shakes began, and I fought the urge to get sick,
the clippers took off, mowed a patch of hair,
a breath from his ear.
Himself locked the clippers away, my career cut short,
on account of that baldie he got so many years ago.
These days, he lets his hair grow
’til his eyes disappear under a grey hedge.
I think of my father, how he used to say,
There’ll be no barbers at that buck’s funeral.
Himself has important folk to meet,
and him with a head like a mountain sheep.
Will you do me? he says.
It’s an offer I can’t refuse.
I lay newspapers down, sit him on the stool.
The light’s too low so I put the head-torch on
hands-free — to swing a plastic cape,
the thick black of a body bag,
around his neck.
He reads the ‘How to’ as if it will enlighten me,
Start at the back and work your way round
to the front and sides.
I stand by his side to brush his hair.
He doesn’t see my hands, hands
that haven’t held a vodka in years,
shaking again. This time — with fear.
I take a deep breath, grab hold of his ear
with the grip a farmer gives to the horn of a ram,
set the clippers to number two
and hit the switch to shear.
Are there arteries in the head? I ask,
as the clippers take off on the mow,
a bottled demon released.
Trish Bennett is an Irish writer who grew up on the Leitrim/Fermanagh border. She is twice-winner of The Leitrim Guardian Literary Award for Poetry and has been a finalist or placed in several other competitions including, Fish Publishing, The Allingham, North West Words, Percy French, HeadStuff, Bailieborough, and The Bangor Literary Journal.
In 2019, she received an Arts Council of Northern Ireland SIAP Award to assist in the development of her debut poetry collection. In December 2019, Hedgehog Poetry Press published her first micro-pamphlet, Borderlines. You can read more about Trish here.