Take Three

 

for more birthdays

 

Pneumatic tubes carry deposits

across the sterile, starkly lit ceiling

forming bleachy white grids

and like The Naked City, each light shines brightly

on a different story.

 

Under grid number 36 DD stood “copper red,”

at least that is what the box had promised,

but on her hair it looked more like a cross between tiger lily

and orange blossom. The vibrant schmata flowed

over her white bandeau, picking up her hair color.

 

She was looking for books for grandchildren

I offered my advice, after all I was there

& she needed my help. Her eye fell on my cart.

 

Oy this place is such an addiction. What did you find?

& then, What do I care right now –

I just had a double mastectomy,

not wearing a bra, not dressing up.

 

More concerned about the right books,

laboring over titles and costs for the holidays

than she was about herself. I moved my cart along.

Looking down, purple flip-flops crossed like tic tac -her toes,

beautifully manicured below those white chinos,

drew my eye up.

 

Grid number 34 B reminded me of an English

garden, fragrant, beautiful, sweeping the eye.

Past the floral caftan, what stood out was her smile

under close cropped hair. I knew we would speak,

let her go, continued through the maze. The next

time I saw her, she and a friend were laughing,

& again, I looked forward to the meeting I knew was coming.

 

She crossed

my path a third time, I spoke to her of beauty,

and was gifted with warm grin.

How did you find the courage to cut your hair so short?

No choice, my hair fell out & it is just growing in now.

 

She noticed my Relay for Life shirt, heard my promise

to shave my head for St. Baldrick’s Day.

Again, that warm smile, Oh do that!

When my hair began to fall out, my boyfriend

shaved mine. I thought I’d suffocate trying

to put on this turtle neck!”

 

I returned her smile from Grid 36DD.

She looked more closely. Oh you poor thing!

If more than half

of my palsied mouth could have hung open,

 

it would have.

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