Poem for my Breasts
After Sharon Olds
I saw my mother’s, reddened large nipples
atop pendulous swollen shapes
and shuddered, wondered if it was gravity
or childbirth, or my own small suckling mouth
that caused them to hang that way.
When you first came, I took to strangling you
with cloth and wire, removing the cages only to bathe,
afraid of the day you would also begin to grow apart
from the rest of me. Then the shame
when – My? Your? – nipples made strange shapes
stiffening with cold, heat, arousal, meaning that
comfort was something we never could
have in public. But you have stayed.
Through pinafores and shapeless blouses
and tank tops and sport bras that pressed
you to small buds I would spend five minutes
fighting to remove . And still you stay,
through roving eyes I pretend not to notice
on the bus, to lovers who would take each of you
by hand and squeeze, sometimes praise,
while I would only shrug and say I never understood
this obsession. Afterwards I would look in the mirror
and mimic that same action. It is entirely sexless,
like taking the roll of fat rounding my stomach
that too will not flatten no matter how much I rub.
As always, you never seem to notice how much
I find the both of you wanting. I must have learnt this
art after all these years, this constancy,
letting the indifference of others slide off my skin
like water, forever seeking the attention
of those who will not want me in turn.