There is a picture of the actress with the red hair
whose jacket is about to be slid off, maybe to the floor
or hung up in the closet. The coat looks to be leather,
and maybe her nightgown will be cotton. Her breasts
are rounded, about to breathe air fully, with no screen
in front, for once. Such a funny thing, ownership -
when the breasts become real, and not just two mounds of flesh
rising like yeasty bread in a vertical oven.
My breasts are disappearing,
vanishing under the efforts of weight loss
and an apathy that grows
from counting calories. My mother has small breasts
for a woman who has grown larger over the past three years.
Stress, she says, her mouth full, and I shrug. I can never
begrudge her that; I am married to it as well, we have
become intimate lovers. Some nights anxiety comes knocking on the door
and we have a threesome, legs and arms akimbo, sweat pouring
out from my body, but at the end of the night they are both gone,
and it is only me left to count the threads of my sheets for sanity's sake.
Her mother lost her breasts to the cancer
I may very well inherit one day,
just as I have inherited their needs
to visit a doctor once a week
and spill my secrets only to him. Like the rest of them,
I have joined the line of women gone mad; unlike
the rest of them - I tell no one. Only strangers who may
very well be telling me lies. I know they don't,
But who's to say? I used to know my breasts
when they bought me drinks at bars, earned me slurs
of compliments issued from the men who were out
to forget the unforseen doldrums of married life. Now
they have become deflated, pale-white mirrors to the ones
seen by the browned natives on the pages of National Geographic.
And I never drink anymore --
Or maybe I do and keep it secret, hoping one day
to reclaim my confidence when I remove a coat
as brilliant as hers in the picture.