Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A poem I read in my Bioethics class on Bod-Mod (body modification).
We're dealing with policies and stuff now, whether the government ought to pay for things of 'medical necessity,' which in itself is such a grossly vague term.

Lucy Sherak
Two years ago, I was thrust into the frightening world of the breast cancer patient. I began a journal to record the events and feelings of this world, and a year later, I found myself writing intense, angry poetry. I have found in my poetry expression for my rage and fear and grief and hope. "Breast Envy" was written on an airplane. I was rflecting on the pain I had felt at the loss of my breast and the strength I felt--and still feel--as a woman in the battlefield with her comrades. I was feeling cocky and sure of myself.

Breast Envy
by Lucy Sherak

I have become an observer of women's breasts
Noting the symmetry, shape and naturalness
The large woman seated next to me on the airplane
Ample bosoms inflated grotesquely
by air blowing from the overhead vent
On the screen
the movie actress
has perky little hooters
under her modest blouse
My hat tilts rakishly to the right
as does my bustline
My shirt stretched tight
to best advantage
semi-bare one-sided busted chest

Four months after my mastectomy
I went shopping for a new bra
Choking on tears
breast envy and grieving
In every woman
I saw the firm, droopy, round, shapely
Paired breasts
It was so damn hard
I was the circus freak
The left-over devastation
of a personal and shameful war
And the temporary cotton prosthesis
kept climbing up my shoulder
like a misshapen growth
Later a large silicone "breast form" lay securely against my ribs
under my thick mastectomy bra
Pulling heavily on my shoulder
Jiggling when I walked
And every evening
a new surgery
as I removed the body-warmed quivering mass

Audre Lorde said that
when women hide their mastectomies
they lose the ability to identify with each other
and form alliances

I wear a button saying "Cancer Sucks"
in place of my absent breast
And the silicone "breast form" lies motionless
in the back of my drawer.


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