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 always with 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.