Top and bra off only. Gown opens to the front.
Dutiful ‘Ok’ drifts in her curt wake, cut by closing door.
Blue paper drapes shoulders, flutters, falls  

to midriff, like baby bird wings in new-flight. Child-like,
I swing my legs and shiver where sterile has no smell.
Cold hardness awaits.  

Radiation oncologist and two residents—or were there three?—
bring clinical attention to bear on my breasts. I strain to hear
humanity hidden in hospital speech. I puzzle aloud my litany  

that runs non-stop since diagnosis: I am a pescatarian, I exercise,
but maybe not as much as I should, don’t smoke, and drink
so little that there is no place on your form for me to fill out.  

No one laughs. Not even me.    

One of the residents rushes to soothe naked fear:
You are more likely to die of a heart attack or get hit  
by a car crossing the street than to die of breast cancer.

My quiet stare                                          reddens his ears,                     
                        my gentle question, his face:                
                  That’s supposed to make me feel better?

I don’t recall dressing or receiving the pink card
that will scan me without words into a membership
I do not desire, into an ending bell I don’t want to ring.  

I don’t recall receiving My Girls cream for radiation burns.
Who came up with the name My Girls, anyway?
I’m not one to name my body parts in this manner.  

Cancer has a way of taking pieces of you away.  

Fully clothed and streetwise once more, I freeze
shy of the crosswalk. Signal light turns yellow…red…green.
People speak in passing, foghorns in swirling gray mist.  

I say nothing and watch the signal light.