Mom's Story

STAPLED HALO
(9/27/05)


when
they were done
with the cancer
they patched
your bald scalp
with sixty three
metal stitches

your daughter
eyeing the pattern
said that you looked
like a baseball
getting ready
to dive
into a curve

two weeks later
we drove you
to the store
and you said
"to Hell
with a scarf
it's July
for God's sake!"

so we cruised
the aisles
your head glistening
beneath the fluorescence
stopping shoppers
in their disbelieving
tracks

you pretended
not to notice
but I know
that you derived
some secret satisfaction
from being the center
of attention
at last

a strumpet
strutting
in front of their
pedestrian
incredulity

at the checkout lane
your brother Les
the comedian
looked at your purchases
and said
"oh maw
not asparagus
again"
in his best
hillbilly drawl

you looked up
quickly
from 5 foot 4
to 6 foot 3

"you're gonna eat 'em
and damn well
like 'em"

the poor cashier
mouth agape
was not sure
where to stare
between your
post-surgery skull
and my mischievous uncle
playing the oaf

I looked away
not willing
to give
the poor girl
the easy escape
of my smile

outside
in the sun
Les made a pretend grab
for his sunglasses
to repel the glare
from where
they had taken
your hair

you laughed
as if it was
the first time

as if
they'd only taken
the dark part
of your mind
leaving behind
this new
doomed
angel of light