The Barbershop – Taylor Triplett
In the blood orange room
you learn how to be a man.
The clippers sizzle, pop,
Your kinky hair falls to the tile
Soft as soot snow.
On the double screens,
A game is playing, turned low
To make room for the commentary,
the new boys in the NBA.
“That number 17” they say
and suddenly number 17 is everyone’s sun
as he hurls the ball through the net
again and again like he’s back on the block
before the rain chased him in.
This is not your first barbershop,
The first blade against your brown scalp
But it is the first time your father brings you.
You have been walking the tight rope wire
Of genders since you came out wet, wailing.
But these brown men don’t wanna hear that talk
They just wanna know: you want a lining?
You want the spray? You want the sponge?
Yes, you say with certainty, always yes.
What you in school for? English.
Writer man. My man! My boy.
My daughter, your father says,
His eyes gleaming with pride,
His hair gone gray as a nightingale’s.
His daughter, even though you shop
In the boys section, even though you changed
Your name. Even though he says this is a boy’s day.
You sit with your legs wide, you smoke outside,
and when the black cape is pulled from your shoulders,
You emerge, brown boy, cut clean, your father’s daughter.