the healing muse

Volume 5, 2005

Your Breast a Unicorn

picture of tatoo
An Epitaph ~ Lezli Parsons
To celebrate the five-year anniversary of my cancer surgery, I decided to cover the horrible mastectomy scar with something beautiful. I feel "reborn" when I look in the mirror now!
Tattoo & Design by Tru

B.A. St. Andrews

I.
Uncut and unsewn my breasts nuzzle
yellow silk secure as two fauns nestled in
Debussy's dream, sun-dappled and safe,
finding solace singly and together.   My heart
beats staccato under slumbering glands of
these breasts and I think about the milk
of human kindness and my friend who, unaware,
suckled an abomination which curled inside her
softness and betrayed her.   Like Cleopatra's asp
awakening on compassion's mound,
on passion's curve, at consolation's center
one aberrant cell metastasized, stirring
from slumber to pierce with death that
tender sweetness it had dreamt upon.

II.
She hates that phrase "lost a breast"
with its insinuation of carelessness.
"It's not as if the three of us went off
to market," she says, "my left breast,
my right breast and I and one zipped off
to ice cream while the other darted to
bottled dressings and me just meandering
beside vegetables stacked and clotted
like a painter's palette with apricot,
celeriac, eggplant, muscadine.   It's not
as if I realized suddenly one of my breasts
had gone missing and charged the courtesy
counter breathless on the PA system
announcing: I'm waiting on aisle nine
for my right breast, my recalcitrant child
who has spent her full, fragile, throbbing
life with me so please return please
and help me push the cart piled high
with treats for her: my other darling,
my rose-tipped girl, my comfort."

III.
Breasts make money, cut or uncut.   We
speak of capital "B" breasts as if
they were priceless organisms to be
mined or culled or caught in the teeth
and so they are. The Breast is a bronze
pendant, a cocoa fruit lopped from
its emerald vine.   Breast is an apricot
moon pinned to the vineyard of night
a pool mirroring the love-sustaining needs
of women and men, women and women,
mothers and sucklings. Breast, tumescent
and detumescent as any male part, is
mystical and defiled, swollen and confined,
life-giving and powerful as Africa's Nile.
The Breast reigns: Queen of Solace, Empress
of Amazons, Priestess of Pleasure.   We all
worship the Breast, ripening or withered:
first pillow, first nation, first food.

IV.
Your breast is gone, medically incinerated
before we could place it among stars.
Lost as the unicorn, that ancient sigil
of innocence, your legendary breast is
extinct and wandering in fields of praise.
Like the Unicorn's, let your struggles be
woven into tapestries and hung in halls
of queens and heroes.   Let your face be
fashioned of herbs and flowers; let your
courage be emblazoned in golden thread
so light-yielding, so steadfast that fragile
sister ships may, by your radiance, glide
unperturbed past shoals and reefs of fear
and anguish which lay siege on every heart.
By your burning may ships heavy laden,
carved with busts of mermaids and deities
who tame wild seas, deliver safely their
cargo of women brave and beautiful as you.

Return to Table of Contents, Volume 5, 2005.

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