Troy Jollimore


						Sooner or later everyone needs a haircut.
								—The Man Who Wasn’t There

The note of longing that creeps into the voice
of the woman who cuts my hair when she says
“Oh, it was amazing”—she is speaking of the time

she was twenty-one and went for a week-long cruise 
around the Virgin Islands on a friend’s sailboat—
is so heartfelt, so hushed, 

so purely human that it makes me wonder 
what parts of the story she is leaving out, 
what she isn’t saying, which suspends itself, 

as the unsaid always does, like a shadow or aura
over the words she has allowed herself to say. 
Meanwhile her scissors sing the snip snip snip

of revision, and small seed-packets of my hair 
are drifting to the floor as if through humid forest 
air. As always I have let it grow too long 

and have come in looking like a middle-aged professor 
of philosophy who is trying to look a little
like Roger Daltry, or if he’s lucky, Robert Plant;

a gesture, perhaps, toward the life I get to live
in the alternative plotline, the deleted scenes
hidden in my life’s Special Edition DVD.


Desire is always a hazardous thing
to reveal. That bold, slightly unfed look
you direct without intending to toward a stranger

you suddenly want—does she remind you of your mother,
or your first girlfriend, or does she represent
the possibility of an alternate life,

one very much like this one in all the ways that matter,
but deeper, more pure?—either risks breaking apart
the social fabric, or else, if only we could see it, 

is the very glue that binds the social fabric 
together. Thread being, perhaps, in this context,
a slightly more fitting metaphor than glue. 


Never having been to the Virgin Islands,
having been twenty-one, having experienced 
unfulfilled longing, never having been a woman,

I am able partly, but only partly
to imagine what she is feeling, as she 
herself, perhaps, is forced in large part to imagine 

the things her younger self used to feel—
memory being, according to its very nature, 
fragmented and incomplete, edited 

very much in the way that film is put together:
jump cuts, dissolves, montages, eyeline matching, 
flashbacks and flash-forwards, all to tell the story.

Hence the tearstained and wistful delicious twin pleasures 
of imagining and remembering, the flickering beam 
of light emanating from somewhere behind you

and the shadows it gives life to, the murmur of the huddled 
breathing bodies all around you, the encompassing dark
that inhales and embraces, that exhales and resolves.