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My Father's Mustache

by Jon-Jacob F Deal

I am 31 years old and
I have never seen my dad
Without a mustache.
Oh, there are some pictures
From his childhood,
And one from Basic Training
(Which, during my own induction,
Uncle Sam and I would recreate),
But never on his living face
Have I seen that bristled lip
Unclothed.

In the last decade or so,
Even with his dark brown crown grown sparse,
The mustache has strengthened,
Expanded, rallied into
A well-kept goatee,
Streaked with iron and
(Ostensibly)
Wisdom.

I can grow my own beard now,
And do, from laziness, or boredom,
Or what a woman thinks of it;
The same reasons which lead me
To later shave it off,
Sending the razor buzzing methodically
Up and down cheeks and sideburns,
Over throat and under jaw,
Through the dense field on my chin;
But here I always
Pause.

In the mirror is a phantom,
A memory of the airplane-smell
Of his Nomex flight suit and the
Prickle of a regulation
Strip of hair against my cheek,
But I look upon ourselves
With my mother's mother's eyes,
Which see the world so
Differently.

My philtrum's length
Doesn't bother me;
There was no water-skiing mishap
To imbue me with
A scar to hide;
I need no mask
With which to cast myself as
Husband, father, man of
God.

There is only me,
Armed with an electric razor
And the knowledge that
Not everything is passed down,
As I cut the final swath away
And show the world my naked
Face.

01/16/2013

Posted on 01/16/2013
Copyright © 2021 Jon-Jacob F Deal

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Nicole D Gregory on 03/23/14 at 12:29 AM

I love this! Through generations and lives and eyes are moments that bind a father and son unknowingly; and I do hope you gave a copy of this to your dad. I wrote my dad letters all the time; but never anything specific and elegant such as this. He might be happy to know his daughter didn't have a moustache (ha!) but something you captured here is so profound and from a girl's perspective... so cool. Thanks for giving a reflective look from behind a "guy's eyes" - a son's point of view. Someday your son will really appreciate it too. ~N

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 03/27/14 at 05:47 PM

Terrific look at how we view ourselves. Great story telling here about your family. "The mustache has strengthened, Expanded, rallied into A well-kept goatee, Streaked with iron and (Ostensibly) Wisdom." - my favorite stanza and loved that word "rallied" especially. Thanks for this.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 03/28/14 at 12:41 AM

Excellent, intimate family story telling at its best, Jon. Glad I had a chance to read it, and thanks for sharing!

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