A Haircut and a Poem

During my last visit to Warsaw I needed a haircut. My usual hairdresser was on holidays and I started looking at other salons. Walking along Wilcza Street, I noticed a narrow shop with lots of wood and warm lighting, with a small sign – fryzjer, but no hairdressing activity in site. After some hesitation I went in to explore; yes, It was a hairdresser and a nice young lady at an elegant reception desk invited me for a haircut with Luiza at 7:00pm.

I arrived earlier, and the same receptionist took me through a couple of rooms to a comfortable sofa. I observed Luiza zen-like hair cutting: very, very slowly, with great concentration and attention to almost a single hair. She smiled at me from time to time, as she sensed being observed. A large mug of green tea and a couple of articles later, she sat me in front of a full length mirror to discuss my haircut. On a little transparent table by the mirror, I noticed a small laminated pice of paper with a short text, placed next to a vas with pink carnations. To my astonishment it was a poem ‘Na zewnątrz noc’ (Outside its night) by Tadeusz Borowski, one of my recently re-discovered authors. I was astonished to find poetry and especially Borowski’s poem at the hairdresser! I read the poem a couple of time and realised that it was about the War and his love Maria, whom he followed to Auschwitz. Borowski’s selection of short stories has been translated into English and published by Pengwin Classics This Way to the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen. Here it is the poem and I don’t know it has been translated into English:

Na zewnątrz noc..
Na zewnątrz noc. Goreją gwiazdy, żandarmów ostry krzyk w ciemności, aeroplanów twardy warkot
i dziki tupot, jęczy bruk
deptanych ulic, płoną stepy
i jak potopu gniewną falą
pulsuje noc zwycięzców krzykiem:
to wiek, nasz wiek, przeklęty wiek rzuca wezwanie przyszłym wiekom… A przecież tylko to ocali
nasz czas od zguby i od zemsty przyszłych dni grozy i rachunku
i tylko to na brzeg wyrzuci,
jak szczep brzemienny winną gałąź, morze dni naszych: proste słowa,
że odnalazłem ciebie. Człowiek, który nadejdzie po nas, pieśni zapomni naszych, znienawidzi
wołań i skarg helotów, ale
gdy wyjdziesz mu naprzeciw ty,
jak gdyby inna, lecz tak samo
dziwna wobec gwiazd obronnym gestem i powie: odnalazłem ciebie…
I moim słowem będzie mówił,
moją miłością będzie kochał…

Luiza explained that the owner of the salon, Piotr Hull, is also a theatre director and a choreographer. His production REM was premiered at the Opera House in Warsaw last year.

Piotr changes poems once every couple of weeks and a different poem by the same author is placed on each table.

Here is a great example of inter connections between seemingly very different fields: hairdressing, poetry, theatre, choreography and ballet. I am delighted with my discovery of a great hairdresser where, if you choose, poetry is part of the experience. Thank you Luiza for a great haircut and thank you Piotr for creating a salon where you shear your interest in poetry. I will be back!

Grażyna Fremi



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