Saturday, February 27, 2016

Valentino's hair

One of the finest chapters I have ever read.

I probably wouldn't be hacking out verse in the highlands of Guatemala if I hadn't stumbled on this chapter some 18 years ago as I lazily passed time in a high school English class:

It's been almost thirty-five years.
I can scarcely believe it, nina.
Time trusts no one and so it disappears
before us like the smoke from my
cigarette.
In 1925 I was young, I was a part
of a world eating at its own edges
without being satisfied.
The Roaring Twenties didn't roar.
They swelled with passions.
They danced, and I danced with them.

I had a barber shop in a Manhattan
hotel.
It is not there anymore.
It burned down during World War II.
But in its time it was elegant, private.
My shop was small, only one chair.
Every comb, every lotion, every towel
perfect:
like the stars which burn in the sky,
everything shined.
The barber chair was gold-leafed
and made of the softest leather.
A man could fall asleep in that chair
with lather still fresh on his face.
There were four large oval mirrors,
two on one wall, two on the opposite
wall.
They faced each other like distant
lovers,
never permitted to kiss,
only permitted to greet each other
with their cool but receptive stares.
-Yvonne Sapia, "Valentino's Hair"

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