Nine women here and my mother
Is one of three without a man
By her side. She has me
Looking scared like these men as though
We are the ones here to see a doctor.
The other two don’t have this–
No daughter or friend to be vessel
Into which they can pour their fear
So they can manage to walk
When their names are called. Ms. Mathis
Is older than my grandmother and
Has no one to hold her hand or
To follow her through the double doors.
Ms. Neal is also alone and I wonder
If before her hair fell away
She wore it long or short and
If she had someone not here today
To trail their fingers through its strands.
Now she wears a black baseball cap
Scattered with pink, sequined flowers
Beside the word Fight.
From Please forgive our mess waiting room
Down a hall to four more walls and five
Familiar women dressed to fight–
Pink tops all folds and strings and
Ms. Neal now sitting matching her hat.
Ms. Mathis holds her face and is crying
Silent and still and perfect like she might offend
A god by letting her bad news be heard or
By letting her shoulders move an inch.
I want to hug her but then my mother
Is called and I am crying too with
My face in my hands and
Arms leaning on knees and feet
Getting wet because I don’t
Believe in proper shoes.
And then my mother comes out smiling.
She hugs me in a bright, green dress
With flowers of her own and says
I’ll never need to write another poem
On striped or checkered carpet.
She’s alright. We’ve no fight–
For all the other women
In waiting rooms in pink.