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


toward womanhood.

Don’t hold your breath

she says.  Most women move

when they try for stillnessYou’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.

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