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by Judith Chibante

Every day
I had on a new pair
of Christmas socks:
red and black ones
with green puff-balls
all around the cuffs, perhaps
the magenta ones
with holiday geese
embroidered in
bright gold.
True, the crazy socks
were mostly hidden
under my jeans when
I stood, but once down
again on the sterile table
for a next installment
of radiation, they were
visible to anyone: to
the efficient measurers
of exact photon dosage,
the able technicians
of checksheets and reports
who could see now
the splashes of mad,
riotous color
as they set about
their grim
daily task.  But
they never
said a thing -- not
when I wore the
not for the
never to suspect
how wearing outrageous
socks each day in
cruel December
disclosed a cancer
therapy real
as the burning
of my flesh.

Judith Chibante Neal is a 13-year cancer survivor. Inspiration for this poem came from carrying out one of the few things over which patients seem to have control: a specific way to accept and cope with treatment. Judith lives in central California and has taught and edited poetry.