7. Wintering

Alicia Ostriker
From: The Crack in Everything, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996
Last Modified: May 6, 2003

It snows and stops, now it is January,
The houseplants need feeding,
The guests have gone. Today I'm half a boy,
Flat as something innocent, a clean
Plate, just needing a story.
A woman should be able to say
I've become an Amazon,
Warrior woman minus a breast,
The better to shoot arrow
After fierce arrow,
Or else I am that dancing Shiva
Carved in the living rock at Elephanta,
One-breasted male deity, but I don't feel
Holy enough or mythic enough.
Taking courage, I told a man I've resolved
To be as sexy with one breast
As other people are with two
And he looked away.

Spare me your pity,
Your terror, your condolence,
I'm not your wasting heroine,
Your dying swan.  Friend, tragedy
Is a sort of surrender.
Tell me again I'm a model
Of toughness.  I eat that up.
I grade papers, I listen to wind,
My husband helps me come, it thaws
A week before semester starts.

Now Schubert plays and the tenor wheels
Through Heine's lieder.  A fifteen year survivor
Phones: You know what?  You're the same person
After a mastectomy as before.  An idea
That had never occurred to me.
You have a job you like?  You have poems to write?
Your marriage is okay?  It will stay that way.
The wrinkles are worse.  I hate looking in the mirror.
But a missing breast, well, you get used to it.

Blogs

In Celebration of Eric Ott
by Bob Riter
August 17, 2015

Related News

Breast Density Readings by CT, Mammogram Consistent

Jan 27, 2014

Semiautomated computer-derived measurements are consistent with radiologist assessments


Researchers look at QOL measurements in breast cancer trials

Jan 11, 2011

Researchers look at QOL measurements in breast cancer trials


Study finds colorectal cancer screening test less likely to detect cancer in summer compared to winter

Jul 8, 2010

Study finds colorectal cancer screening test less likely to detect cancer in summer compared to winter