Four days to leaving, he has his hair done,
lets her cradle his head, turn it from side
to side. Behind each ear the slow blade
moves, removes strands that have taken root
of their own accord: tenacious, out of sight,
secure in knowledge of their chosen plot.
The pressure is just right. So for a while,
feet angled over the floor, he travels
all alone in that uncertain room framed
by the chair, lights. Finding the mirror
too close, he closes his eyes, approximates
the thirteen-hour night between to and from,
sun warming the earth enough in sleep
to set him on his way. Among the things
he'll never fathom, this conspiracy of air –
how a cold morning, or unexpected rain
(so often making one city feel like another)
might, given perfect conditions, transform
into a river high above the rough surface
of this sea-level, waiting to lift or leave us.
On cue, a draught enters the shop, sends
his cut ends into heavy drifts, banks. No-one
watches, but he wonders if it is like a dance.
Which are coming, which the leaving ones.