My uncle is a barber. He cuts hair with a pair of chopsticks. People don’t know the
difference. It’s like he’s tossing a salad, or, for short hair, like he’s checking for lice.
Sometimes he makes buzzing noises with his mouth for the sound of the clippers. He says
to his customers, close your eyes, let your brain release, let your hair hang free, I must work.
There is an art in his touch, the energy and attention he pays to those once living strands.
Often, hair bounces under my uncle’s touch like a dog about to go on a walk. Other times,
hair shines with a light from within. It’s love, my uncle says, I love hair; it is only natural that
hair should respond to such love. Who doesn’t want to be loved? My uncle clicks together
his chopsticks. No one, he answers.
8 october 2006
“Uncle Barber” first appeared in The Cafe Review, Fall 2013.