Temporary Breasts

Elise M. McClellan

When I was young breasts were
admirable like my Aunt.
She called them "Bosoms."

From the pool she took me to pee,
the bathroom full of wet people.

In the same stall, desuited, nude
she laughed as I covered my lack.

Her breasts big as my head
attractive, asbestos white
as she put sunscreen on my freckled shoulders.

Her breasts are gone now.
They look like smooth bowls
full with fat from her stomach.

She shows us, Mom and I,
in the Hospital.

Breasts absent of nodes, nipples
she insist her husband won't miss.

Holding them she praises Modern
Technology for cheating the same death
as her mother,my Grandmother,
who did not have these options.

It's not that I hate having them,
their intimate space craving infinity.

I carry them in bras

I carry them for the mouths
of my children I carry them
fearing lumps hard with
the passion of death,

other lumps,
that are not nipples.

I carry them invisible.

I anticipate their absence.

I carry them greedily,
jealously, temporarily
because every woman in my family
has lived
to die
without them.

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The 2River View, 1_2 (Winter 1997)