No haircuts during shloshim: once you died
I called the shop to say postpone my trim.
I don't know the rules on manicures, but
it felt right to leave my nails unkempt.
This winter I came down after you fell
and called the beauty shop for both of us.
You said sure, but when time came to go
just getting yourself dressed had wearied you.
You rallied, pushed your walker to the door
turned down the visor mirror and then frowned
"How can I go to the beauty shop like this?"
I tried to turn it then into a joke:
we go when we don't yet feel beautiful?
When we arrived at Holly's, the bombshell:
the pedicure chairs were up a flight of stairs.
You hadn't gone up stairs in years. You made it
step by awful step and then collapsed
into a chair and closed your eyes. Your calves
were bruised, your tiny ankles swollen tight.
They were so gentle when they washed your feet
I thought despite myself of taharah,
the way we wash the bodies of the dead...
Before you died I got a goodbye manicure
but now my nails are chipped, my cuticles
as ragged as my heart. Soon I'll let
my stylist bring repair, rejoin the world
still feeling strange without you there to see
my nails that look like yours again at last.
shloshim - literally "thirty," the first 30 days of mourning
taharah - literally "purification," the holy work of washing, blessing, and dressing the bodies of those who have died (see Facing Impermanence, 2005)