I Dreamed That You Were Lost

And then I woke and saw
you through an angle
of the mirror, your great falls
of hair dripping purpleblack
into the tub, your neck
straining against the weight,
the gravity, your muscles
thrumming, the carotid
swollen and blue, your entire
architecture open to the world
like I was first opened to the world
under the chattering steel
of the clipper’s teeth, hot
and cold against my skull,
baby curls falling
as I conceded to the machine,
to the knick of an ear
and the steady woundings,
to the incessant hum
of the barber’s full attention.
Like you, I opened my throat
to the mirror but came
back different, razored
close to the bone,
the blade of my face
now sharper, savage,
ready for the next cut.

7 Comments

  1. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Ryan, not sure if I entirely get what is happening here, which, by the way, I love. The sensuality of one, possibly two, “haircuts”, happening in the same poem… seems to me so poignant. I think about that moment, the seeming randomness in the “Describe” video. Love the intimacy of your scene as it unfolds, and the word choices and lines. Maybe add even more sensory details?

    The “haircut” happens seemingly out of nowhere. Much like your poem here… under the “chattering steel of the clipper’s teeth.” And I love the last five lines:

    back different, razored
    close to the bone,
    the blade of my face
    now sharper, savage,
    ready for the next cut.

    This alters the poem and takes us into a visceral challenge. Love how haunting/ haunted these words leave us.

  2. David O'Connor

    Ryan, love this, really captures the thoughts and feelings during a shave. I can relate, I often feel poetic when in the barber’s chair. If you are going to take another pass-through, I’d focus on the you, making the you as specific as possible, drop in a few details and images. Keep the frame, paint the you more, and keep the barbering. Regardless it is a lovely piece, well done.

  3. Benjamin Niespodziany

    Great fever dream of a piece here. I love the pacing and the whirlwind rush of it all. I’d love to see this one attempted as only one sentence — maybe try removing that first period and just running with it so it all feels like one long-winded breath. Nice dizzying poem!

  4. Koss Just Koss

    Love this and how it suggests a relationship through hairs cut and the last line, also, a severing, echoes the title. As above, so below. Smart poem. Does much outside of itself.

  5. Meg Tuite

    This use of the words: purpleblack, carotid, your neck straining’ each part brings in a desire for violence, a strangling within the confines of cutting hair ‘Like you, I opened my throat
    to the mirror but came
    back different,’
    my suggestion is to take out the word ‘dream’ and break this out into the true emotional world that it is. Great! LOVE!

  6. Len Kuntz

    Hi Ryan,

    This is so lyrical, speculative and lined with darkness. Really brilliant, especially that evocative ending.

  7. Roberta Beary

    Some great writing here, Ryan!

    These lines stay with me and bring me back to my own children’s baby curls:

    like I was first opened to the world
    under the chattering steel
    of the clipper’s teeth, hot
    and cold against my skull,
    baby curls falling
    as I conceded to the machine,
    to the knick of an ear
    and the steady woundings,

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