Thursday, October 12, 2017

"To the Nurse Who Told Me to Grieve for My Breast"--A Poem for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I will be posting a couple of poems for it over the next few weeks. Now that I've made it out the other side of my battle with breast cancer, I post these in honor of those still fighting that war--and in honor of the medical teams, like my own phenomenal team, and the caregivers, family and friends who support all of us as we struggle to defeat this terrible opponent.


I sit here unable to understand.
My breasts have been good to me,
I’ll admit to that—
lots of sexual pleasure
through the years,
large cup size when it mattered
to the world around me,
never any problem with infection,
mastitis, fibrosis, cysts.

When I had babies,
my breasts overflowed.
No problem nursing—
I pumped breast milk
for La Leche to deliver
to neonatal preemies.
Men and women who were born too soon
and struggled to live
may be alive today
in part because of my breasts.

It’s not like we’re talking
a hand, an eye, a leg.
It’s just a breast,
mostly a big inconvenience,
always in the way and vulnerable.
Not something I can’t do without.
Losing it won’t cripple me.

And the son of a bitch tried to kill me.

(Published in Black Renaissance Noire, 2015)

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