The year it rained every day in November
she opened her front door wigless and browless
to anyone – neighbors, carpet cleaners,
little boys from down the street.
Her scalp didn’t shine the way you might expect,
instead begged touch like a baby rabbit,
fine whispers of hair falling across her temples
and just behind her ears.
She said I’m sorry about not wearing the wig
but I could tell she wasn’t sorry,
and why should she be? This woman,
this survivor, whom I’d welcomed
into the neighborhood with a note
and a box of brownies left on her front steps
and lived next to in perfect oblivious harmony –
watching her car come and go,
waving from the mailbox -
not knowing this was the third time
she’d fought this battle, in rooms
I might see into if the blinds were open
not knowing my good fortune
until that moment
when she opened the door
you healthy bitch with all that hair.
- Irene Latham
I traveled to Tennessee this weekend to spend some time with my brother and his family, and while there, my lovely sister-in-law mentioned this poem. She is a home health nurse, and she said she has gotten this reaction before. It's completely understandable, of course... haven't we all felt that way before, when life deals us a hand that feels particularly unfair?
“Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.”
- Oscar Wilde