When I sit in a room of women
I want to ask every fourth one
to raise her hand.
“This,” I would say
“is the number of you who
will have breast cancer.”

“If you are as lucky as I am
you won’t have chemotherapy
just radiation and a man
who doesn’t care what you
look like afterward,
so long as you are there.

Then I want to have them
leave their hands up and say,
“and this is also the number
of you who have been raped.”

“If you are as lucky as I am
it didn’t happen until you were old
enough to put the violation
in its proper place and go on
with life.”

The last thing I would ask
is for every tenth woman
to raise her hand.
“If everyone was honest,”
I would say,
“there are probably
more of you¬¬¬¬—
the ones who can’t
not take a drink
or a pill
or a toke
or something
that makes you feel different.”

“If you are as lucky as I am
you’ve stopped listening
to your mother
and discovered a group
that really knows
what you’re talking about
because they’ve been
down the same road
and along with them
you’ve found what
you were looking for all along.”

Poetry Thursday