Sunday, August 10, 2008



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
eyes blazing
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


  1. Thank you so much for the gift of your poetry book! That was very sweet! I wasn't expecting it, but I certainly have been looking forward to reading it. I am glad you had a good time with MJ & Jen & family. Hope to see you next time. ; )

    P.S. Like your poem too

  2. Irene

    That is such an intense poem. Thinking about a dear friend who died from breast cancer at 37, I am sure that she had to have felt that way. She had the most beautiful blonde hair before the cancer. When she lost her hair, she had a wig made of human hair, but it was not the same. It seemed as if she was living underneath a veil when she wore it.

    I hope that your Father is doing well. I have been thinking about you, lately. So sorry I haven't been by in a bit, but you are always in my thoughts.



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