Over a blemish, the technician presses
a small lead bead, marking
its dark aberration. We talk
about menopause as her warm hands
place one breast, then another
on the clear ledge, shoulders back,
loose, my belly tucked
behind each graven image:
she with her hot flashes
between pictures, my sudden
cessation that month my daughter
started her crimson trek
Don’t hold your breath
she says. Most women move
when they try for stillness. You’ll blur
less when breathing.
I think of the movement
of wings, a gull held in space,
stationed perfectly in the wind.
We dismiss the gowns,
un-ironed cotton. Among breasts
and bleeding, what need?
A doctor will read the results.
She sees what matters above
the film, our bodies bending toward
what remains of light,
the hands we’re dealt, spread
like cards, the breasts
past nursing, a certain history
leaning toward our
supple, abundant future.
Carol Barrett coordinates the Creative Writing Certificate Program at Union Institute & University, and publishes both poetry and creative nonfiction. Her book Calling in the Bones won the Snyder Prize at Ashland Poetry Press. Her manuscript Alchemy of Breath is looking for a home.