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Behind the bathroom door, I move as if

By rote, then stand, at last, before a glass

All fogged with steam–the shower's daily gift

That keeps me from my face.  It comes to this


Each morning, but . . . from here on in, I'll cut

Not just my own, but someone else's cheek:

That stubbled skin I kissed when I was eight.

Its beard is mine now.  Now no longer sleek


With boyhood's smooth, untroubled flesh, my jaw

Seems firmly set against my father's blade.

Each day, the mirror's foamed facade, scraped raw

And red, comes clearer from its masquerade


As someone else.  He's doubled now.  We trade

Our places, rinse and slap and towel down.

Now twenty-eight, his age when I was made,

I razor off a frowning, lathered clown


Whose throat is his.  Our Slavic jowls and cheeks,

Inflected by an upper lip too thin

For shaving safely, wreak their havoc:  nicks

And cuts we've learned to take upon the chin.


The two of us, who share a dimple now,

A pair of laugh lines, one deep philtrum, meet

Each morning, paint like mimes, and like mimes, saw

With single, silent, simple steel.  We greet


The day in one another, realize

Our more-than-homely task, and know for good,

We need not ask what's in each other's eyes,

For here is where I've drawn my only blood.


Len Krisak



From Fugitive Child, Aralia Press, © 1999.  First
printed in Envoi.  Reprinted by permission of the author.



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