Poem of the Week | September 06, 2017

This week, we are proud to present a new poem by Andy Sia. Sia is a Bruneian poet of Chinese descent. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Colorado Review and Meridian. He recently earned his BA from Colgate University.

At age 10, I get a bad haircut


From the orders of my mother, no less. I watch
the barber chop me up, my little pieces, all innocent
and unmanageable, falling and flying around the room. I suffuse
the room with my little pieces. I fill up a room. At 10,
I’m more room than boy. I’m more mirror. I try
to be faithful because this is what you do at 10. I reflect
the dreams of others so that they may see they’re not dreamless.
Not unwhole. It’s no sleight. No alchemy. I don’t
peddle magnanimity in my selflessness. It’s all no more
necessary than the engorgement of cocoons
or a wound closing. I was born empty and knowing.
Sometimes I forget my origin. I look at the mirror
and see all of the ways I can bypass myself. I am playing
the piano and suddenly the tune written by a dead white man
morphs into a glittering sea of cicadas in the jungle. Instead
of doctoring viscera, I doctor the souls of others, being
the little saint I am. My hair grows and grows, overwhelming
the scissors in the barber’s hands. It grows into a flock of birds.
I stop myself then, putting everything back in natural
order. The mirrored boy and the dreamless boy.
Boy constructed and boy eroded and boy constructed.
Why do I live like this? Here’s another hypothesis. Love.
Question (parent): how do you like it?
Answer (me): I love it.


Author’s Note:

For reasons I don’t fully understand yet, I ruminate over my childhood quite a bit. Mostly my memory is hazy, but the few instances I do recollect are sharp and alive. For someone who turns to the past so often, these remembered instances—however vivid—are frustratingly sparse in quantity and, because of that perhaps, seem to take on great symbolic weight.  

“At age 10, I get a bad haircut” is my way of abandoning caution for once and saying: yes, there is meaning and, yes, there is unimaginable depth in this relentlessly mundane scene that keeps replaying in my mind. Whether true or not, I felt an immense sense of release after writing the poem.