She wants to shop Chico’s for what she calls
her special event outfit. Dad tags along lost in the swim

of the fall collection—cardigans and dark lean pants.
The salesclerk, all cheeks and teeth, approaches us

but my mother needs to glide past her to begin her search.
I shadow her. I can’t yet imagine the perfect find.

With smiling lips, she tells me, The price isn’t an issue,
as she drapes my arms with jackets for the dressing room.

I help her slip into the sleeves, swap sizes, move swiftly
to please her. She knows what she wants. Then she sags

to a bench as Dad and I admire the periwinkle jacket
with a satin sheen, and she sends me off for a tank top.

The clerk shadows me now, asks if we’re having any luck,
can she help us. I feel compelled to tell her that the outfit

for  this special event is what my chemo-haired mother
will wear in her casket—date imminent, still unknown.


Gail Goepfert, an associate editor at RHINO Poetry, is a Midwest poet, photographer, and teacher. She has two published books–A Mind on Pain, 2015 and Tapping Roots, 2018. Get Up Said the World will appear in 2019 from Červená Barva. Recent or forthcoming publications include Kudzu House, Stone Boat, Postcard, Poems and Prose Magazine, Open: Journal of Arts and Letters, and Beloit Poetry Journal. More at