Naked, a cut is her left breast, an empty sack her right. The deep breath I take lasts ten years.
(I didn’t go to you, I didn’t ask you. I only exhale today; when I’m old and you are married.
I should only write about her)
The Breastless Queen, how she stood there looking at herself. Absolute presence.
– “Ojalá hubieran cortado el otro también!” (1)
She had filled her breasts four times, three times with milk for us, her children; once for vanity.
Disgusted with doctors, she won’t have them fill the empty breast, nor reconstruct the other.
She put on her white linen shirt without a bra, her flat chest a statement. No breasts needed, just the woman.
Her naked image, her scar, it’s what I wanted to write; I kept overwriting, you.
Her breasts, our love. Gone. Her sagging right breast. We dried too. And she’s gone.
Two women in the mirror, three breasts, one empty.
– “Ay Bambi. ¿Porqué estás desnuda frente a mi en el espejo?
– Para que vieras: ya fui más allá del miedo. Mi cicatriz, mi pecho vacío no importan, sólo que puedo mirar!” (2)
(1) “I wish they had cut the other one too.”
(2) “- Ay Bambi, why are you naked in front of me, in the mirror?
– So you could see: I have gone beyond fear. My scar and my empty breast don’t matter, only my gaze.”
Viviane Vives is a finalist of the Sandy Crimmins National Prize in Poetry, semifinalist of the American Short(er) Fiction Contest by American Short Fiction, and a nominee for Best of the Net Anthology, 2018. Recent publications include Tupelo Quarterly, Litro Magazine, Burningword, and The Sixty-Four Best Poets Anthology by Black Mountain Press.