One time while painting in an unventilated space
my husband said, “Ann, breasts absorb everything,
every toxic fume and chemical there is.”
I began to think of all the breasts in the world:
upright and alert in uncomfortable under-wire bras
or maybe weary and hanging with no support at all
vulnerable and innocent breasts.
Albino, cream chocolate, mint, bruised, bitten,
tangled, tired, silicone, yellow,
happy east and west.
Canine mammary cancer spreads identically
as it does in a woman:
Lump, lymph nodes, lung, back, brain.
The very obedient dog began to wet the carpet
about a year after the malignancy was removed.
That night after supper her legs gave out
and the cat came to touch noses.
The collar and tags are what they gave me.
My mom just loved that dog.
I have four sisters, which makes this fear tenfold.
For goodness sake, Mother,
you settle in my heart like a house at night.
The slowest creaking in memory sinking deep into the earth:
I am four, you bathe.
I peek through the keyhole.
I hear singing from the tub,
your brassiere hanging from the doorknob.