Sitting in a long room of patients reading
or sleeping away the slow, drip, drip,
drip of today’s poison, I turn from the chapter
in which the detective is chasing the crook
and look to the far wall and what’s free:
above them says: two baseball caps,
two Giants baseball caps, a gray fedora,
three black berets, one yellow,
green, and black knitted crown of thorns,
the kind a Rastafarian might wear.
Below the hats hang wigs: a brunette
and a blonde, and one bright red bouffant,
straight out of the fifties like the flaming
hair a girlfriend of mine once swung
from side to side dancing The Monkey.
I start laughing, startling the thin
man sitting next to me awake.
He nods, smiling as if he knows
exactly what happened next,
that night after her hair stopped burning.
And I smile back, give him a thumbs up,
forgetting the needle taped to my wrist,
its clear tube snaking up my arm
to three days worth of sickness breaking free.
Alarms going off, nurses rushing
in my direction. Suddenly, both of us
are laughing louder than anyone should
in the middle of so much cancer, happy
so happy to break the silence of our disease.