Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
Last Modified: July 16, 2003

I stood in front of the mirror bare-chested,
a flat slate, open field, horizonless
like the round earth isn't really
so round anymore.

The slim trails of stitches, crooked line
that climbs a little, dives a little
across each side. The branding
in my clavicle where chemo port went in,
chemo port came out, the almost
invisible pink line in the left armpit
in lieu of lymph nodes there, and
the ruddy thicker line down my stomach
to pubic bone, dividing belly into two halves --

all the parts exposed, slashed expertly open,
all these parts surrendering their goods
to the surgeon's hands, sealing themselves
back up like the earth cut open, excavated,
relandscaped to accommodate new clearings,
the mining for danger and risk,
the yearning for long life.

I stood in front of this mirror
while the moon hung soft and round
in the corner of the bathroom window,
while the kids argued in the other room
over the clashing tones of television,
while the cat slept on my bed just beyond,
while the bathwater roared into its container
soon ready to part and let me in,

and I knew it was still the same place --
the same grasslands, butterfly milkweed,
the same storms parading over --
of my body.

All the skin complete,
all the blood complete,
all the muscle complete,
all the tears, all the breathing
ongoing toward this completeness,
and all of it, beyond understanding, good.