A trip to the salon

The place is called Time.
It's at the end of our street.
I often pass by,
as I ascend or descend the subway steps.
Through plate glass windows, the freshly shampooed swivel,
as stylists wield blow dryers and wide smiles.
They are black.  I am white, as is my family.
We cut our hair at the kitchen table,
with dull scissors used to snip parsley and construction paper.
We once had special hair cutting scissors that I bought on Fulton Mall.
But they got lost in our house, which is big and commodious, 
a problem that sometimes comes with whiteness, but not always.

My daughters are starting school tomorrow,
and want to mark the occasion by dying their hair funky colors,
but not how we used to do it, with hydrogen peroxide and spray paint.
My kids are posher than I ever was.
Why be grumpy? Why not splurge and go to a salon?
A chance to support black business, and besides, it's nice in Time.
There's dance music playing, and the sprays smell of cleanliness and optimism.
I need optimism on this day of Hurricane Irma, chasing her Harvey over southern seas.

Miranda's stylist is named Chardonnay.
You couldn't ask for finer bone structure.
She shoots me a look and says, when am I doing you?
I'm flattered, although all she means is: I need a haircut.
But haircuts aren't my thing.  Books are my thing. 
The lady (black) who sits beside me seems to be inviting conversation.
Shouldn't I chat? Isn't that what you're supposed to do in salons?
My chance to represent my skin color in a better light than it's been representing itself of late?
But I don't feel comfortable in salons, white or black.
I find my page and the pop music fades and there's Kashmir in the '90's,
calloused trigger fingers, mass funerals, gouged out eyes.
Nothing is new under the sun.
Though at one point, weren't we new?
Burying each other with feathers and hair combs,
chipping arrows from stones in the then greener plains of Africa.

I visit history for company and commiseration.
I don't understand the appeal of amnesia, or double-good-unhistory or 
whatever it is that allows for surprise at Dylan Roof,
tiki torch jerk offs, Jeff Sessions and his boss.
My black friends are less shattered.
My white friends are bleaker, more stricken and ashamed.
Those whose families escaped Europe during the last world war may be the worst off,
their eyes dull their voices drowning
as if their grandparents are clutching at their ankles, moaning, do something! help!
We're donating money, telephoning our Congressional representatives, using old 
haircutting scissors to cut posterboard into creatively shaped protest signs.
Smarter perhaps would be to buy those chickpeas I've been meaning 
to stockpile in the basement, 
though the gun nuts are likely to get them in the end.

My daughters are going back to school tomorrow, 5th grade and 3rd grade.
Chardonnay did a great job dying Miranda's tips purple.
Penelope's bangs are a shimmering, peacock blue.


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