From the hotel in Martyrs’ Square
we drive west into Achrafieh in
search of a barber, where I learn
there are four words for barber—
three of which are spit out, the
last of which—coiffeur—anoints
the tongue with its mellifluence,
like the milky coffee served by
the small African woman who
never stops bending and refilling.
We sit with a group of men wearing

three-piece suits fingering
their prayer beads and crosses

and watch a man, larger than

most, giggle through his
haircut. He has some advice
for what I ought to do with my
sideburns. They are too long,
and my beard, it is not good,
there are ways to fix this, and
so these men, who in another
time would have other advice,
and other things to offer,
gather around to officiate as
my coiffeur takes a blade to
my neck, and gently trims until
my head is as smooth and
perfumed as a past which is
not past, but present.

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