The Caribbean Writer

Tito The Barber (?-1995)

Virgil Su


who cut my hair
in Huntington Park,
California in the 70s;

he was old then
& he still managed

to hold that straight
razor straight against

the back of my neck;
told countless stories

of his youth in some
part of Cuba, when he was young

like me; then he owned
a suitcase full of money & knew

women in every town
he trained to; gambled at cock

fights; drank the finest
rum; all this time he’s shaving

& holding steady;
razor against skin.

a decade later when he can’t cut
hair anymore because of arthritis
& his nerves being, as he put it,
on edge & poor eyesight,
he takes to strolling the neighbor
hood, carries a kitchen knife
to be on the safe side, sharp,
tucked between his camiseta
& pants, walks unafraid, day
dreams of those days in the land
long forgotten-but not by him
no, he walks in back each day,
past the places where the concrete
ends, & the red dirt & sugar cane
begin, he goes back each day,
dressed in his best, a suitcase
in hand, with somewhere in mind
to go to, things to do, people
to meet, to a life still ahead of him.


Copyright © Virgil Su

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