The Woman Whose Body Is Not Her Own

Anita Skeen
From: I Am Becoming The Woman I've Wanted by Sandra Martz. Papier-Mache Press, 1994
Last Modified: May 6, 2003

She is not herself anymore,
hasn't been since she stood before the mirror
in her own bathroom, holding
her own toothbrush, an ordinary
gesture, two days
later. She was lucky
to be alive, they all said, lucky
to lose something she didn't need,
not an essential foot
or a necessary hand.
They told her to rest.
They took her to dinner and talked
of the new kittens, the new boss
pestering like a small boy,
the small woman blessing them
from the corner booth.
The women across the table
were intact, might have lost a job
or a tennis match, maybe even
have lost touch with a son
or a good friend.
When she touched what was lost,
splayed her fingers across her chest
like a child cheating a peek
in a nightmare flick,
she heard the word "best".
"This is best", they said.
"This is my breast," she tells the woman
in the glass, her hands cupped
like small graves
over the pale landscape, the shadow
of full moons. She feels the lips
of her first baby sucking
at air, sees him nested now in the crook
of his mother's life,
of this other woman's arm.

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