Against the Grain

1 September 2013

If your face was a piece of wood I wouldn’t know which
way to plane it I say. The right side of his mouth curls into
a ghost smile. Yeah he says my grain goes all over the
place. I use the trimmer to top off the long white hairs
under his chin, stretching the skin to dewrinkle it.
feeling him looking into my eyes as I avoid his.

This is intimate enough.
Mustn’t go to pieces.
Need to put on an upbeat front for him.
I swallow the lump in my throat.
A close shave.       I’ve never shaved
another person, let alone my father.

I think back to a modest redbrick War Service home a
lifetime ago in the 1950s when he would shave in the old
linoed kitchen, stretching his palm across his mouth
wiping his face sideways in the reflection of a small round
mirror hanging from the bakelite handle of a cream-
enamelled gas oven door.

Give me a shave dad. He’d look around to see mum
wasn’t watching and tickle my five-year-old chin with the
green Sunbeam razor.
He looks up at me now like a child. My memories strong.
His fading fast. Both
keeping up appearances.

 


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