As If In Offering
Because your hands shake so badly, you have me shave your beard.
There’s the whisper of the boarshair brush, the hiss of the faucet as it fills the water,
the stuttered hum of razor sharpening, and fitting so perfectly into my hand.
The smell of crushed mint clusters between us as the soap foams
and you tilt your chin up, as if in afterthought.
I’ve learned the physics of my life – in which it goes nowhere, but constantly spins.
My feet have dissolved into the floorboards.
All part of the furniture now.
You breathe out and I count each flake of dust that vibrates with your consideration.
I could, you know:
the raw side of the razor could touch you
as gentle as a goodbye from daughter to father
I’d splinter you beneath the blade, lacerated
and you are so cruel to me
it serves me right, to be alive and able and holding
my fingers curled tight along your chin, cupping your face.
This is the way life sounds.
The razor hums out, flicks over the straight edge of your jaw – straight edge to straight edge,
and your hands shake so carefully and you smile so rarely
and I think of a moment when
I could forgive you all your faults
But dry and brittle bones can do no harm
and I am no longer anything but dry and brittle, honeycomb, husk.
You wipe your hands over your face, draw out the foam of shaving cream
and you laugh, opening up your smile – rows of teeth,
and a cloud inside of me twists like a knife,
and my hands shake around the razor.