You know the old saying: “Hair today gone tomorrow.” Poet Lawrence Kessenich faces his face after years in the underbrush.
The beard was part of me—of us
as it turned out—but my decision
to remove it was unilateral.
Perhaps, as she would later
accuse me, it was an act of
violence, a way to alienate,
but it seemed to me our alienation
was a fait accompli. Perhaps it was
a declaration of independence,
for as I looked into that mirror
I was moved to liberate the face
beneath my ten-year-old beard, a face
she’d never seen. I found a scissors
in my friend’s medicine cabinet,
slashed away, finishing the job
clumsily from inexperience
with his shaving cream and razor.
Cheeks smooth and red as a baby’s,
I emerged. She looked as if
I’d slapped her face, instead of
shaving my own, as if I were a
stranger who had stolen
into her life and made
himself at home. Which, I suppose,
is exactly who I was.
– Lawrence Kessenich
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