The salon is quirky—
an indoor swing, a stuffed unicorn—
silver and pink everywhere. 
My stylist meets me at the door
tearful and subdued,
as though about to prep
a beloved aunt for burial.

She throws the black curtain
over my body, snaps it at the neck,
and after discussion
sets the razor to ¼ inch.
Magnolia blossoms of hair pelt down
on the wrap, the floor, our feet,
and I am nearly bald.
Not three minutes have passed.

I tug my new, white pixie wig
for public wear over the stubble.
It’s scratchy and tight and looks
so much better than my real, pre-shave hair
that she gasps at the little moon
that will hug my face all day—
pharmacy, car, grocery store.
I get so many compliments
on my snowy look.

And I think, when this damn cancer
is gone and my battered body
can travel again, I’m going to Rome,
to London, Cornwall, Berlin,
my own, less attractive hair
framing my newly-happy face.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Cathy Barber

Cathy Barber has an MFA in Poetry from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and an MA in English from California State University. Her poetry and stories have been published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Australian Medical Journal, Slant and Kestrel. Her work has been anthologized in Rewilding: Poems for the Environment; Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California; and The Cancer Poetry Project Vol 2, which won Best Poetry Book of 2013, Midwest Book Awards. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net. She has taught with California Poets in the Schools and served as president of the board, and served on the board of Literary Cleveland. She lives in Cleveland Heights, OH.