Breast; a memoir

Something that came out of a prompt from the “Our Word” workshop.

Week Four, Day Two; A breast memoir:

She was probably prettier than she thought she was.

She always felt inadequate; never enough, never like the other girls. She used to hide in the locker room until the others were nearly done dressing. Then she’d bolt for the door, trying not to hear the jeering.

It’s easy to forget, now that she’s gone, that she was loved. That she was probably even lovely. He loved her. Others did before him. He bid her goodbye with me. We made a ceremony of it…

My two breasts were cut on the same day. The areas to be taken were located with needles, placed into the hard, cold presses (needle inside, crushed within) and photographed. Even the dye injected into them stung. Chunks, the size of an egg on one side, and a golf ball on the other, were taken.

It hurt as much as anyone might think it would.

My entire torso was a mass of bruised, swollen flesh, allergic, we learned later, to the covering of adhesive bandage meant to keep it clean. So that the skin itself was raw… And my poor new man, offered the chance to leave, because he’d only lived with my children and I for a month, stayed.

That was the first surgery.

The next followed in three weeks, when the healing had really just begun. Cut again. Anticipating the scalpel’s kiss kept me awake at night. Dread and shrinking had to be suppressed because it wasn’t over yet.

A third of the breast was taken. Any pretense of saving the breast was abandoned by how disfigured it was now. Ugly, caved in on itself, nipple pointing east.

The doctors said something about margins. The damn margins. They said I could keep the other one (forever after referred to as “Lefty”), but this one had to go.

He kissed her goodbye, with all the tenderness he would have afforded her before her disfigurement. He washed her gently, shaved the hair around the nipple, and left her as clean and as soft as she could be made to be. We tried not to see how carved she still was, given how recently her stitches had been removed. She was still so green with bruising.

He said goodbye. And I washed her with my tears.


Working toward my soul with “Our Word”

This is from one of the workshops in the online “class” I’m taking.

Today’s truth; shining a light into my darkness.
I don’t much like what I see. There’s an awful lot of self-doubt, being terrified of self-pity, getting blown away by how little time I might have to do everything I ache to do. Especially when so much time is taken up worrying about stupid survival, and money, and insurance, and worrying about my husband who has no hospital insurance unless we move to the UK (because we just can’t afford it and he’s too old for the ACA)…
In the darkness there cringes a little girl who is absolutely full of self-loathing. When I look at her now, it’s difficult to understand why she feels that way. I know she’s ugly, awkward, says the wrong thing more often than not, but I admire her daydreams and her sense of justice and of romance. The roots of her that are still me are the best of her, but I need to get her out of there and love the angry, jealous, rejected child, too.
My roots hold me back, hold me down, but they also feed the things that still define me.

The class is “Our Word” with MaryBeth Bonfiglio.  Look it up.  It could help you find your truths.

Seventeen syllables a day…

Surely, if I want to call myself a Writer, I ought to be able to manage seventeen syllables a day.  At least that’s what I’ve told myself.

But, since January, I’ve managed to miss a few.  There are so many more reasons not to write, in this unforgiving world of corporate power, part time jobs,  and our cold economy.  I love my teaching more than any work I’ve ever done, but it isn’t enough to live on (every Adjunct’s lament, I know).

Still, what would I change?  Would I want to be back in that corporate life?  Nope.  Not on your life.  No, I’ll keep on keeping on with these seventeen syllables, trying to compile the right chapbook, chipping away at my novel, directing my one-act plays in community theatres, and dreaming as BIG as I ever did.

For April, I’ve doubled down on that syllabic commitment , attempting to do it in this blog, as well as in the facebook “Room.”

Here are some that I’ve written this past week:

My father’s birthday;
means red wine, chocolate cake,
laughter, memories.

Sunny, wind-whipped green.
Biting chill looks warmer from
inside the windows.

Scent of England hangs
in misty rain today. We
remember bluebells.

My “special” people
fill my heart in ways that most
could never fathom.

Crayons, tempra paint
smell of Elmer’s Glue, laughter;
creative breakthroughs.