Because of Cancer

you mourn over the death of your hair
in all five predictable stages of grief

you went missing the moment your hair fell out
in the emergency room bathroom

you stare in the mirror day after day
to make sure you continue to live

often you panic over your naked head,
a half-bodied hermit crab frantic for a shell

and you assume you will look as orphaned
to others as you feel yourself

yes, you disappeared on cancer leave
but now you’re back, and who is that woman

standing over the copy machine,
they wonder

you assume they view your micro-hair
as an unfortunate style of choice

and you want to tell them this isn’t
the authentic you, but what is?

i’m sorry, who did you say you are? says one
and this is when you imagine them naked and bald

with fear just like you, this is when you secretly
dare them to see beyond

their benign assumptions
but instead you must label yourself, point

to your heart and say it’s me
and watch them step back from you and adjust

their glasses, because like regret, they
require some distance to look you over

yes, yes, of course, it’s you
i didn’t recognize you standing there

i wasn’t sure, i thought i saw
they don’t see me, is the thing








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