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It snows and stops, now it is January, The houseplants need feeding, The guests have gone. Today I'm half a boy, Flat as something innocent, a pancake, Only lacking a story. A woman should be able to say I've become an Amazon, Warrior woman minus a breast, The better to shoot arrow After fierce arrow, Or else I am that dancing Shiva Carved in the rock at holy Elephanta, One-breasted male deity, but I don't feel Primitive or mythic enough. Taking courage, I told a man I've resolved To be as sexy with one breast As other people are with two And he looked away. Spare me your pity, Your terror, your condolence. Tragedy, dear friend, Is a sort of surrender. Tell me again I'm a model Of courage. I eat that up. I grade papers, I listen to wind, My husband helps me come, it thaws A week before semester starts. A practical lady, an old survivor, Phones. You know what? You're the same person After a mastectomy as before. An idea That had never occurred to me. You have a job you like? You have poems to write? Your marriage is okay? It will stay that way. The wrinkles are worse. I hate looking in the mirror. But a missing breast, well, you get used to it.
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Author:Ostriker, Alicia
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:May 1, 1993
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