THE MAN WITH HALF AN EAR GETS HIS HAIR CUT
The blond, plump-faced hairdresser
describes the hickeys she found
on her boyfriend's neck and chest,
knows they're not from her,
asks me what I think she should do.
As I try to answer, her hands
tug my skull in different directions
beneath the whirl of razor and
the crisp wet snipping of scissors.
All day, she's been tattooing
scorn and rage into other people's
bangs and sideburns, and now,
for fifteen minutes, it's my turn.
Then she touches my right ear,
the tip where the flesh never formed-
just the blueprinted pipe dream
of my parents' DNA-asks Does it hurt
when I press here? This is not
the first nor the five hundredth time
I've been asked about my missing half-ear:
car accidents, knife fights,
once someone asked if it was true
that my own father shot it off.
But this one is new, I realize, this one
I've never been asked before-
not until this spurned hairdresser
distracted and tugging my scalp
like the rip cord of a parachute.
I tell her no, it's like scar tissue, trust me,
I barely even feel it. She nods. Good.
I was afraid I was hurting you.