They should have been my warning
Those streaks of blush
The color of an ocean sunrise
Coming up unevenly over each hollow cheek.
The walls of her shop,
The counter tops, the mirror, the vacant drying chairs
Were all covered
In that way that only emptiness can cover a room.
The yellowed credentials: "Greensboro Beauty College 1948."
The styling charts circa 1972.
Their subjects faded.
An ashtray filled with pennies.
From somewhere indistinct the "coo coo" "coo coo" of a clock
Defies the hour's anonymity.
"Oh dear me, is it that late already? Where has the day gone?"
Sunrise to sunset
Time sat undusted on every surface
The assorted icons to other people's memories.
The room was a wedding band
And the bridegroom never did appear.
People walked past her shop carrying newspapers.
At home, her cat purrs alone.
She hadn't had a customer in weeks
Or a lover in years
So I sat patiently
As she fumbled for a comb,
And showed me pictures of other people's grandchildren
Leaving my hair as sparse
As beach grass
Under the blush of a setting sun.