Razor Dance, poem by Wendy Ellis

Bill stood in his socks a thou­sand times
before this dim­pled mirror–
at this pit­ted, stained sink
with its small rub­ber plug on a lit­tle, coiled chain.

Bill's straight razor rest­ed across the top
of a heavy ceram­ic shav­ing mug.
The mug held just enough
shav­ing soap for one more close shave.

A nail held a Pull­man strop, curved with age and use
above and beside the sink, and he'd knock it
with his elbow when he pulled his cheek high
to care­ful­ly scrape the whiskers away.

He'd stand there, soapy and deliberate–
and a whis­tled phrase from the 'Chick­en Reel'
would slip out between his pursed lips.

His right arm would hes­i­tate, then Bill would fling out
his hand and he'd do a shaky bit of clog­ging. Flat-footing
in the bath­room with that razor in his hand.
No taps, no wood­en soles–just his socks
on the bath­room floor. Jig­ging as the sun came up
and the cof­fee brewed downstairs.

The floor sighed under his feet,
the house knew Bill was reel­ing and whistling–
swear­ing delight­ed­ly as he reached for a styp­tic pencil
to staunch the nicks.

He'd drag-slide, loose kneed
across the room, pull on his boots,
whis­tle under his breath, come down the stairs.
Swing his wife around and leave for the woods,
cof­fee hot in a ther­mos under his arm.

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