Pinching Pennies
Sue Ellis

On a summer morning
we head out to the back yard.
I've got the scissors and comb,
he's carrying a plastic lawn chair.

In the shade of the lilacs, I sit down
as he does a warm-up with the scissors,
slicing air into ribbons while
a magpie tugs at my shoelaces.

He's learned to shape, not shingle,
with hands more suited to hammers.
We visit about everything and nothing,
easy and hard.
My scalp tingles at his touch.

When he's finished, I brush off my shirt
and say thank you.
The haircut will be good enough.

I notice, then, that the neighbor has
seen us from a vantage point
beyond the raspberry canes.

I wonder how he's interpreted our
geriatric still life, if he can fathom
chemical sensitivity--
how I can't visit hairdressers now.

I doubt he sees the patient man
who cuts my hair and
makes plain soap for me.
Or gets how water, lye, and oil
merging into something pure.
He probably thinks
we're pinching pennies.

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