Lifting My Shirt

Patricia Fontaine
Last Modified: March 15, 2004

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OncoLink Poetry

This morning
two weeks after surgery,
the utter absence of my breast
shouts silence
after all the frantic months
of lifting up my shirt.

At 3, I see the oncologist,
the incision is healing well,
how nicely it curves to my armpit,
then she tells me
it's not the most
cosmetic
scar she's seen.

I hasten down my shirt.
Ugly is sudden.
She asks if I have emotional needs
but they have long since fled,
snapping the skinny ligature
binding me to the leavings of
my gone,
bountiful breast.

At home I try to plant
but end up watching spiders
wrap and suck their prey
in every outside corner.
I want to tear the webs,
snip the silken coffins,
give the prey
that blundered in
their unexpected freedom.

I go before the mirror
lift my shirt again,
It's the hundredth time
I've lifted up my shirt
but tonight I am sick
OncoLink PoetryI am sick
like my first view after surgery,
the giant wad of gauze
parting slowly from
the fresh, red,
impossible line
illogically flush with my ribs,
the sacred site of a
razed and holy place,
to which I must concede.

In my innocence,
in my shock
I place my palm
on what is healing
tell my single breast
I'm sorry. I love you.
You are still
a prayer.