Wednesday 28 March 2018

Nursery Rhymes and Hair Loss

by Kathleen Murphey

Hickory dickory dock
the chemo treatment plan struck one
—one treatment done,
Leaving nausea and fatigue in its wake,
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory dock
The chemo treatment plan struck two
—and hairy locks were shed,
Leaving me as bald as a Humpty Dumpty egg,
only six treatments more,
Hickory dickory dock.

It was a shock today,
on the morning before my second chemo treatment
to feel and see the hair fall away in the shower
—noticeable and significant hair loss
couldn’t be denied.
It was the first time, so it caught me by surprise.
I had associated it more with the second treatment.
It made me cry as I pulled more and more of it away
and watched it pool in the hair trap over the drain.

Perhaps it’s better this way.
I have an appointment at Lovely You
for Lisa and Debby to take off my hair.
In my mind, I have been trying to take this step,
but with my hair firmly attached,
it’s been hard to make this leap.
Now with wads and wads of hair in my trash can
—the start of the progression that will leave it all gone
—perhaps I’m ready to enter the shop,
knowing I’ll leave with a wig and accessories
to adorn my newly shorn head.

Hickory dickory dock,
this chemo patient has Lovely Me, a wig, and a plan,
until I have lovely locks again.

* * * * *

Kathleen Murphey is an associate professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia.  Recently, she has been writing fiction (both short stories and poetry) on women’s and social justice issues.  To learn more about her work, see

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