Humiliation Heap

Ally Malinenko

You can only use soap and water on the treated area
he tells me
No lotions, powders or creams.

What about deodorant?
I ask slipping my arm back into the gown
They help me sit upright on the table
like I am one of those old ladies in the waiting room.

No, they say.

Not before? I ask.

No, they say.

But after right?

No, they say.

Wait, what? I ask
as the little Jewish man offers to tie up my gown

No deodorant.


Not during treatment.

For seven weeks?

Oh wait, he says, I forgot the picture. I have to take a picture for your file.

He unties my gown, folds it down
and my breasts sit there.
I look down at my nipples and they look up at me.
One of the scars is curved like a smirk.
It smiles for the camera. I do not.

I want to make a joke about these going online
but I can hardly talk.

The camera flashes.
So really seven weeks, I say? No deodorant for seven weeks?

Yes. But it’s okay to use a little powder on non-treatment days.

You mean the weekend.


Thanks a lot, I say
though I don’t know
if it’s for the information
for the treatment
the privilege of being gunned with radiation
or for this extra little humiliation
added to the heap.

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