I was stripped to the waist,
mesh band around my torso,
guards over my nipples,
and ice cold jell squeezed on my chest
by a medical assistant named Virginia.
A robotic arm landed on the jell,
rolled across my breasts.
Virginia watched a screen and took notes.
She smelled like jasmine.
Later, I sat next to the doctor,
behind his desk. In an office
that was dark and cold.
The blinds drawn, door closed,
a large computer monitor flickered,
cast a glow across his face.
Dark circles under his eyes,
glasses balanced a large nose
with purple veins the size of worms.
He leaned forward as he stared
inside my breasts on the monitor.
Now and again he stopped,
scanned back and forth over the same spot,
zoomed in and out over the same spot,
leaned forward some more,
to stare at the same spot.
You don’t really see my breasts on the monitor,
so much of me is left out:
like the freckle on my left breast,
the inverted nipple on my right,
I’ve always felt she was a little shy
but she ventures out with the right attention.
Thoughts of my aunt Shirley:
how she was my special person.
she died of breast cancer when I was 16.
I was fourteen when I pushed a wooden spoon
into her mouth to hold her tongue down.
She writhed on the bathroom floor.
She was naked. She had epilepsy.
She was just out of the shower.
Her body jerked, her eyes rolled,
her skin turning blue.
I saved her that day but she died anyway,
two years later, of breast cancer.
“Look, there it is!” The doctor said.
I closed my eyes. I squeezed them shut.
Didn’t want to see what the doctor was seeing,
didn’t want to look, didn’t want to know.
He nudged my elbow, “Want to see your heart?”
I opened my eyes. I leaned forward.
I saw my ribs, imagined them broken up,
chewed upon, dipped in barbeque sauce.
Then I saw her my heart, far inside,
beneath all my dark and twisty outer shell,
beneath my skin, my flesh, my bark.
You can imagine my surprise,
she was not grated on the surface,
nor plunged into by knives
and cupid bows and arrows,
nor dull, flogged and walloped by life,
cowering at the edge of my chest.
No, She was a ripe plum on a summer’s day
this silk of babies skin,
this spongy pudding,
this filling and squirting life into myself,
this wildness in my cage.
This warrior holding court
in the backdrop of my appearance.
This lead ballerina dancing
as if her life depended on it
without an audience, until now.
The brevity of a rainbow across the sky,
that tree, you know the one
that falls with grace in the forest,
that moon who keeps the oceans flowing,
the gravity of gravity.
And my heart plump and alive,
palpable to the touch of a hand,
a lip brushed across my lip,
an embrace, brown eyes across a room
touching my blueberry ones.
Stand close to touch my breast
but from a distance,
you can grasp my heart without a hand,
pull it from my chest,
snag it in your pocket,
and keep it there forever.