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The Mastectomy Poems: 1. The Bridge

Alicia Suskin Ostriker
From The Crack in Everything (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996)

You never think it will happen to you,
What happens every day to other women.
Then as you sit paging a magazine,
Its beauties lying idly in your lap,
Waiting to be routinely waved good-bye
Until next year, the mammogram technician
Says, Sorry, we need to do this again,

And you have already become a statistic,
Citizen of a country where the air,
Water, your estrogen, have just saluted
Their target cells, planted their Judas kiss
Inside the Jerusalem of the breast.
Here on the film what looks like specks of dust
Is calcium deposits.
Go put your clothes on in a shabby booth
Whose curtain reaches halfway to the floor.
Try saying fear.  Now feel
Your tongue as it cleaves to the roof of your mouth...