“Someone Has To Cherish These Tiny Little Heads”


[“After Supper at Family Camp,” Frost Valley YMCA, 2013]

This is a mull/discern week; whatever it is I might be led to write isn’t fully formed as yet. Instead, I offer this amazing poem which arrived in my InBox a few weeks ago when I’d participated in a poetry chain letter.

Mr. Pate’s Barbershop
By Major Jackson

I remember the room in which he held
a blade to my neck & scraped the dark
hairs foresting a jawline: stacks of Ebonys
& Jets, clippings of black boxers —
Joe Frazier, Jimmy Young, Jack Johnson —
the color television bolted to
a ceiling like the one I watched all night
in a waiting room at St. Joseph’s
while my cousin recovered from gunshots.
I remember the old Coke machine, a water
fountain by the door, how I drank
the summer of ’88 over & over from a paper
cone cup & still could not quench my thirst,
for this was the year funeral homes boomed,
the year Mr. Pate swept his own shop
for he had lost his best little helper Squeaky
to cross fire. He suffered like most barbers
suffered, quietly, his clippers humming so loud
he forgot Ali’s lightning left jab, his love
for angles, for carpentry, for baseball. He forgot
everything & would never be the same.
I remember the way the blade gleamed
fierce in the fading light of dusk & a reflection
of myself panned inside the razor’s edge
wondering if I could lay down my pen, close up
my ledgers & my journals, if I could undo
my tie & take up barbering where
months on end a child’s head would darken
at my feet & bring with it the uncertainty
of tomorrow, or like Mr. Pate gathering
clumps of fallen hair, at the end of a day,
in short, delicate whisks as though
they were the fine findings of gold dust
he’d deposit in a jar & place on a shelf, only
to return Saturdays, collecting, as an antique dealer
collects, growing tired, but never forgetting
someone has to cherish these tiny little heads.

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1 Comment

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, Patricia, my so, so very dearly special and dearly precious For Always friend and sister who you are For Always so, so very much!!!!!!!! Sister, wow, wow, wow and wow and wow and a zillion wows here, my so very dearest friend!!!!!! I so, so very much love and like this beautifully powerful, inspirational, uplifting, and so, so very full of such sharply keen insight blog post article of yours here, Patricia!!!!!! Wow, this is just great here, Patricia!!!!!!!! Sister, I’m for sure For Always praying for your very blessedly holy discernment process this week as you mull with your very, very heart for our Spirit what Spirit will have you so, so very brilliantly compose with such descriptive clarity the way you usually do, Patricia. I so love the absolutely right on, on point, and so very relevant title to this absolutely amazing blog post article which you so wisely used from this very, very powerful and so true to life poem, sister! I love the very superbly super picture which you have very graciously and generously featured with this so very cool blog post article, for all of our tiny little heads, all of our children of all colors, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, geographical locations, and socioeconomic statutes with our white children, black children, brown children, multiracial and biracial children, and, in fact, all of our wondrously wonderful children as our so, so very sweet tiny little heads you and I my precious sisterfriend, Patricia, and other persons so, so very much love and cherish, my so very dear friend!!!!!!!! My friend, this poem which you have so, so very graciously and generously featured here is just so very powerfully poignant, sister!!!!!!! It just goes to show what I’ve For Always known about you, my and our so, so very dearly special and precious white sisterfriend who you are For Always, Patricia, in how you love all children-not just white children but all children: white children, black children, brown children, all children as our very tiny little heads who we so, so very much love and cherish, and this love of yours, sisterfriend, and YOU sister Patricia, just mean so, so very much to me, my friend!!!!!!!!! This empowering poem speaks to the very, very heavy losses for Mr. Pate as he has lost the now older young black men to death by violence who were once the tiny little heads in which he cut their hair, and the young black men whose beards he had shaved off, sisterfriend, This poem also so very sharply and sensitively speaks to the very, very heavy losses in the black communities, and for black persons with the high stress, trauma, and heartbreak we have over lost lives often due to violence, wasted beautiful human potential, and lost opportunities when our young persons and even older black persons don’t survive and don’t make it through the difficult times somehow, sisterfriend. As you so wisely know, sister, with your very beautifully sharp and keen racial awareness and sensitivity, Patricia, black people and black communities are under siege with gun and other violence, black-on-black crime, gang violence, police brutality, and all sorts of social ills which plague black persons and black communities, my so very dear friend. I just know in your so, so very dearly deep and precious heart, Patricia, that you, sister, along with me love all children of all colors and that we both so love and cherish all children of all colors as our so, so very precious tiny little heads!!!!!!!! Black lives matter just as of course all lives matter-it’s just in saying so very earnestly that black lives matter, too, just as for sure all lives definitely matter. Sister, we’re all in this together as Spirit’s so, so very dearly special and dearly precious children in our common human family and shared humanity in our Good God’s beloved community!!!!!!! We all share in the unity of the spirit, sister, and we all must for certain bond together in our love for our So, So Very Sweet Spirit God and for one another, sister!!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!!

    Sister, I’m just feeling so, so very energized, and just so, so very inspired and uplifted from this very insightful and absolutely fantastic blog post article of yours, my friend!!!!!! My friend, it is such a sheer and blessedly joyful pleasure for me to very, very eagerly and delightfully read your sagacious blog post articles, and with such joyous fun and pleasure to respond to them with my heartfelt, detailed, and very thorough comments!!!!!! YOU, Patricia, are my very joy and blessing!!!!!! Yay for you Patricia!!!!!! Yay for our sisterhood and friendship, Patricia!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!

    Please have a wondrously wonderful Wednesday, rest of your week , weekend, and week coming next week, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed, Patricia!!!!! Yay!!!!!!! You mean so, so very much to me, Patricia!!!!!! Spirit loves you, sister, and so do I, my friend!!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my so, so very For Always sisterfriend Christian white woman who you are For Always so, so very much, Patricia, with such Peace and Love To You For Always, my friend, and with such Blessings and Even More Blessings To You For Always, my sister,

    Your sisterfriend Christian lesbian black woman For Always in the very spirit and solidarity, Sherry Gordon

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