Poem: The woman next to me on the subway

The woman next to me on the subway

is reading a paper that says that based
on her mammogram results,
she will need a biopsy, and I want to tell her
it is only a little piece. Just a tiny piece of skin.
You won't even feel it and even if you do,
you won't miss it. She is sliding her fingers
along the edge of the envelope and clutching it
like a prayer book. The way children
hold report cards they are afraid
to show their parents. I want to say sorry.
For writing about you and sorry for other things.
I would let you take some of my skin
if it would help. I have never wanted
to give my fingernails for a stranger.
My freckles, the hair along my arms,
but you are worth at least a scar.
At least a scar. At least that much
I can try to keep for you. She does not
look at me and so I watch her rocking back
and forth, the way I have seen
old Jewish men pray, with an unashamed
devotion and a fear of stillness,
as if by shuckling they might force
the blood through their bodies. You are worth
a prayer, I want to say. A name, at least.
A monument and a name. Tell me your name
and I will pray for you. Your name
and your mother's name and her
mother's name and I will pray for you
as I would pray for my own grandmother.
I can promise you that. More than the doctors
are promising, at least. More than God,
too. Tell me your name, at least.