IN THE HEYDAYS OF HIS EYES
(taut jeans dancing)

An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
 
 
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BOY WITH HIS HAIR CUT SHORT

Muriel Rukeyser

Sunday shuts down on this twentieth century evening. The El passes. Twilight and bulb define the brown room, the overstuffed plum sofa, the boy, and the girl's thin hands above his head. A neighbor radio sings stocks, news, serenade. He sits at the table, head down, the young clear neck exposed, watching the drugstore sign from the tail of his eye; tattoo, neon, until the eye blears, while his solicitous tall sister, simple in blue, bending behind him, cuts his hair with her cheap shears. The arrow's electric red always reaches its mark, successful neon! He coughs, impressed by that precision. His child's forehead, forever protected by his cap, is bleached against the lamplight as he turns head and steadies to let the snippets drop. Erasing the failure of weeks with level fingers, she sleeks the fine hair, combing: "You'll look fine tomorrow! You'll surely find something, they can't keep turning you down; the finest gentleman's not so trim as you!" Smiling, he raises the adolescent forehead wrinkling ironic now. He sees his decent suit laid out, new-pressed, his carfare on the shelf. He lets his head fall, meeting her earnest hopeless look, seeing the sharp blades splitting, the darkened room, the impersonal sign, her motion, the blue vein, bright on her temple, pitifully beating.

 
 
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