We were watching Wheel
when the barber came,
when the barber came 
to cut her hair, my sister’s hair,
thinned and patched, 
scalp afire from 
the atom’s kiss.

Gently, gently the barber
worked, the scissors snipped,
the razor whirred. 
She cried a little, 
he bit his lip, but this 
barber was good,
he worked on and on.

And when the barber
was finally done, 
he held up the mirror
to that gleaming egg,
the slick bald dome
in which cancer nursed.
She cried again
but thanked him still,
he touched her shoulder
like a father would.

He refused to take
bills thrust his way,
the barber wouldn’t,
no matter how we pled.
It’s how people do,
the barber said, 
then closed the door 
and went away.