Clean Shaving

Illustration © Claire Palmer 


In a barber’s mirror I appear

much younger though I stopped

shaving a while ago. Youth is

overrated, unnecessary; it creeps behind


on sleek crutches, it makes

me check over my shoulder.

It shears my clothes apart

at the most inconvenient moments.


See, that’s why there is no youth in afterlife,

the barber says. Hereafter is so full of beards

that clean-shaven people worry they’ll

miss out on a place among immortals.


Conversation breaks up when the blade

hesitates down my neck as if looking

for an incision mark. Youth-talk makes

the sharpest of knives doubt itself.


Knotted hair brushed in a dustpan.

Out the door, first left up the High Street,

I notice a young blade following me.

I am slowly turning to stone.


© Maria Stadnicka 2020

Published in ‘International Times’, 14 March 2020.