Radiation Day 17
—poetry by Ally Malinenko

Betty has lost her necklace.
She clatters around the room
banging her cane against the legs of the chairs

and Anna shouts
Did you look in the gown
when you changed?

Betty nods. It’s not important
Betty tells us even though she’s
hunched over trying with all her might
to get that bum knee to bend enough
so that she can see under the chair.

Did you look in the machine room?
Anna offers

Betty nods,
It’s just a necklace
just a material thing.

She wanders out of the room
down towards where we all change
each morning.

While she’s gone
Anna says,
This is why I don’t wear nothing.

I’m on the only in the room so I assume
she’s talking to me
but when I look at her
she’s not.

When Betty comes back 
Anna says,
Check the couch cushions
Maybe it fell.

It’s okay, Betty says with a sad laugh
and I can’t help but think
as someone who has lost quite a bit of jewelry
that it’s probably not okay.

But Betty is steely.
You know, she tells us
I wore it every day
because I read in one of those cancer brochures
that this woman
got dressed up for radiation every day.
That it made her feel better
to go there all ready and
and I thought,
Betty says, poking her cane under the chair one more time,
It might have helped.

Anna nods.
So does Maria
but Betty just sighs
and says
I better call for my ride home
I’ll see you all tomorrow

and this time,
even I say goodbye to Betty.

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collections The Wanting Bone and How To Be An American (Six Gallery Press) as well as the novel This Is Sarah (Bookfish Books). A forthcoming poetry book entitled Better Luck Next Year is slated for publication in 2016 by Lowghost Press.