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, 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 gets 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
Illustration: Claire Palmer