Featured Poem: Gifts of Loss

By Lynn M. Hansen
Modesto Branch, California


1st Place Marion Doyle Poetry Award, 2020



They warned me it would be gone.

It would take fourteen days

for my hair to fall into my food,

gather in clumps at my feet

in the shower, form mats

in my brush or comb by the fistful.


As if on schedule, long grey strands

loosened from their follicles

then drifted to the floor

making it necessary to clip

the remainder, before a patchwork

pate became unbearable.


Friends came, held hands

in ceremony to honor loss.

Mani burned white sage, offered

Yaqui prayers, sang Lakota blessing.

Melinda buzz-cut the remaining strands.

Lillian helped harvest my locks

for moments of sharing –


strands draped from garden fence posts,

at the wildlife refuge bundles dangled

on barren willow twigs and cottonwood

branches swollen with buds, wisps

of hair fluttered on naked cattail stalks –


my gifts to the birds for their mothering.


  1. Calder Lowe says:

    Your powerful poem is your gift to us as readers just as your wisps of hair were gifts to the birds for their mothering.

  2. Dayle herstik says:

    Poignant. Evokes feelings.
    Simple, beautiful words that don’t need an interpreter.
    Congratulations. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Carolynn J. Scully says:

    I have never been where you have traveled. But your poem drew me close and made me feel your loss. I pray you are now on a strong healing path.

    • Lynn Hansen says:

      Lovely Carolynn, Thank you so much for your empathetic comment. I am now 5 1/2 years out from the end of chemotherapy and am doing very well. During the dark days of this experience, a Pen Woman from Houston Texas shared my situation with her church and they sent a healing shawl knitted by members of their congregation. I wore it thorough all of my treatments and it gave a real boost to my morale. Lynn

Comments are closed.