There is a vast sisterhood of women who have heard “We want to take some more pictures” during a mammogram appointment. We’ve shared the involuntary fast-forward past “what if” right to “what now?” Every year there are upwards of 300,000 diagnoses of breast cancer. Every year, many, many times that number of women are called back for more views before they are pronounced fine.

This week brings the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Poetry brings awareness to life’s moments, and here poet Patricia Zylius brings us a moment of heightened awareness from her own life.



When the radiologist
says he needs more views
I want to go outside, raise
my shirt up over my dear
right breast and show her
the high, hot-weather clouds
feathering the sky, let her look
on the sun-speckled river,
share the creamy
late afternoon light with her.
She should go unrestrained, taste
the same offshore breeze that plays
on my bare arms. Why not let her brush
against wild lilies beside the creek
and come back to the cabin
pollen stained?
If the dense and jungly tissue
turns out to be harmless,
I’ll lay my length along my lover’s back,
press my faultless breast
against him. He’ll turn.
The berry will slip
between his lips, his tongue
will set us reveling in our luck.

                        This poem first appeared in Ellipsis.


WVFC ZYLIUS  pat1Patricia Zylius is a freelance copy editor. She gardens, practices tai chi, walks, and listens mostly to music written before 1750 and jazz. Her poems have appeared in, or will appear in, Caesura, Monterey Poetry Review, Sand Hill Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Catamaran Literary Reader, Ellipsis, Women Artists Datebook, The Yes Book, and other publications. She edited and published Dear Sweeties: Tom Cuthbertson on His Dance with Cancer, by her late ex-husband. She is the author of the chapbook Once a Vibrant Field, published in 2013 by Finishing Line Press.

(Photo: Kathleen Rose)

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  • Gayle Sulik October 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I love this poem!