Client Cirrus Clouds, photo by James C. Henderson
Categories Poems in the Time of Pandemic, Poetry
Location New Brighton, Minnesota
Date April 21, 2020

James C. Henderson

My father sits on a chair in the middle of the kitchen
a floral dishtowel tucked around his neck
so I can cut his hair.

He’s very still, trusting me.
This makes it difficult to make the first snip.
It’s not like when I had my first haircut.

I was crying, hysterical
the barber sweating, my father recalls
me not knowing why he was taking a part of me.

My father saved a lock of my golden hair.
I saw it once in my baby book
a curl stuck under Scotch tape yellowed and brittle.

I feel I should save a lock of my father’s hair.
People in Victorian times saved the hair of loved ones
wove them into rings, bracelets, wreaths

or wore them as broaches to remember them by.
What my father should have had
when the barber was cutting my hair that day

was a lachrymatory bottle, a slender glass vial
used to catch the tears of mourners.
I could have cried a bucket.

As I can now, my father’s hair gathering at my feet
white wisps of cirrus clouds high in the April sky—
what memories must look like.