Six a.m. in the Y pool, the swimmer
in the next lane flashes me a grin
before flipping into his turn,
and I ask myself why I never liked
a mustache on a man.
It might have been those childhood
newsreels—a face with mad eyes
and a censor’s black mark riding
the lip—but the swimmer’s has charm,
stays tidy even when wet.
Uncle Marcel curled his into sheep
horns, polished his bald pate,
clues to his jaunty mood, foreshadowings
of fun—and it does take a certain
frame of mind to grow one:
Picture a man at the bathroom mirror
contemplating the planes of his face,
asking himself if there’s room, if
it will be the right color or make
his chin recede,
imagining a suave accoutrement to a wellcut
suit, a comfortable accessory
to chinos and an open-necked shirt
or, from memory, Errol Flynn bravado
and a red neckerchief.
Even the dash of the word sells itself—
moustache, something a man can do
that a woman can’t, at least
not happily—an asset, an extra eyebrow
quirked above a smile.
—from Rattle #24, Winter 2005