The beards of grandmothers and the beards of grandfathers
are more real than the stars
and every evening gray falls in sidereal plaits
streaked by prayers as white as shampoo.
Predecessors, like you I would lie down to dream
and let my hair wash the light of the moon.
Of course I resent my new beard!
Only yesterday I saw it perambulate from laundromat
to firmament and its curls were so magnificent
it transcended my chin for another.
O fickle goatee!
At night the darkness touches my face
and I think of my love’s black hair,
and at morning the dawn light touches my face
and I think of my love’s light hair.
So each moment is faithless and passes away
as love did, dark and fair.
My beard grows longer as I sleep
and when I wake I am not what I was,
and my beard grows longer as I walk
and when I arrive I am not what I was.
I alter and alter and yet it’s the same
– there is something in me without love.
Moses, Methuselah, Noah and Solomon
stroked the same white beard and furrowed the same frown.
“There’s a symmetry in being seer,” they said,
and smiled at daughters and sons too young to know
that prophets only lie in books, like dust,
and never speak their own dry words themselves.
“It is good,” patriarchs declare, “to be old enough
“to wear wisdom’s shroud as light as hair.”
Time, too, will make me regal and bland
as the impassive snow which holds the ground
in a mirage of evenness and silence, till the thaw
reveals only mud, the whiteness dry and gone.
Still, I’ll enjoy pretending that my cheeks don’t redden
because I’m unaffected by the sight of each new sun.
The ocean is woven from the hair of the drowned
and the earth is the hair of the buried.
Thus we brush the world with fingers and teeth,
The living keep shifting the hair from their eyes
but the dead can see through hair.
Thus they never touch their eyes.
From baldness we grow without any effort at all,
and towards baldness we grow, without effort.
Albert Stabler is an illustrator.
Tags: albert stabler
, facial hair
, noah berlatsky
, things men care about