Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Women's History Month: Kathie Giorgio's "Sex After Breast Cancer"

You are your rebuke
repeating a mantra,
Be happy to be alive.
A part of you died
while the rest ran for safety
as the leper was excised
from your body.
Be happy. I’m alive.

You switch the refrain
from time to time
I’m lucky I’m lucky So lucky
you still have two breasts.
But in front of the mirror,
one plus one does not equal two.
You have one whole breast
and one not so whole.
Two-thirds. Maybe.

That sad breast
collapsed on one side
nipple pointing to the right
like a tattletale finger
areola no longer a pearl-pink halo
but a white ghost of what was
That sad breast
You cradle it with one hand
and hide it from your sight
glance over your shoulder
at the empty bed behind you.
Be happy. I’m so lucky.

You remember that pose
that pose
I am happy to be alive!
Those moments
I got lucky I’m lucky So lucky!
Arms flung over your head
On display
A mating dance
A ritual
Your breasts two whole magnets
for your lover’s
mouth tongue teeth hands

But now
And now
you know if he or he or he or even He
was here
you’d cross your arms over your breasts
one hand cradling
and you’d run from the room.
You rebuke.
Be happy.

Cradling your breast
your sad breast
two-thirds here  one-third excised
you wonder if the only touch
you will ever feel now
is your own.  
Be happy to be alive.

I’m lucky. I’m lucky. So lucky.

© 2019 Kathie Giorgio

Bio: KATHIE GIORGIO is the critically acclaimed author of four novels, two story collections, a collection of essays, and two poetry chapbooks. A fifth novel, If You Tame Me, will be released in September of 2019. Giorgio’s work has appeared in countless literary magazines and anthologies. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, among other awards. Her novel The Home For Wayward Clocks received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her novel In Grace’s Time was runner-up in fiction in the 2017 Maxy Award and the second place winner of the 2017 Silver Pen Award For Literary Excellence. 

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