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Fourteen Days

by Helene Berlin

after my first chemo
the shedding begins. 
To ease transition
my long, luxuriant envy-of-friends hair 
has been chopped, reduced to 
a practical pixie crop.
    Red Devil poison circulates, penetrates.
    Strands loosen, detach in my hand.
    Uprooted from toxic follicles, they lie 
    scattered around my sink
    strewn across my dressing table
    settled in tangled nests on my white tile floor.
        Day after day 
        tender patches of pallid scalp 
        expose in slow-motion striptease.
        Though grateful for spared life and breast
        I grieve,
        like Samson bereft.
            On TV, a stunning young actress with cancer
            is extolled for the boldness 
            of her naked pate. 
            In my mirror, head bare,
            I can pass for a drag queen 
            with painted-on eyebrows 
            and my father's face.
            I am not beautiful bald.

Helene Berlin, a retired software developer, is a Zumba instructor who has been dancing with NED for eleven years. Fourteen Days was inspired by a recent magazine cover featuring a hairless yet radiant Joan Lunden. This is Helene's first published work and she is grateful to her women's poetry writers group for their wisdom and encouragement.