Woman’s Body with Birds
by Lauren Camp
As she talks, I am not looking exactly
at the small crowd of stitches
scattered like bird prints on her torso,
or the arched dash of migrating tracks
where a doctor drew into her coast with a knife.
Last night, my body learned appeasement.
As the moon slouched, I again stretched
the soft parts of me that curve,
while the unscripted night turned in cycles.
In the locker room as she turns to the side,
I see her naturally sturdy self
Last night, he pushed against bone,
held my mind in his palms.
When the doctor told her it must go,
I imagine the breast sat like a bird on the dock
of her naked frame, beating
the precise rhythm of lament —
and if it bothered to flutter little wings
even once for the journey ahead,
it was in thin bright tones of uncertainty.
Because it is rude, I am not looking,
but I know her blood keeps pumping, even there.
For minutes I hold the colors of my breath.
When I walk away, fully dressed,
I reach to touch the two nests of cells on my chest,
to lift them up, and pull in tight.
The arc of my gestures is close to my body.
* * * * *
Woman's Body with Birds was first published in Feminist Studies.
Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), winner of the Dorset Prize. Her poems have been published in New England Review, Poetry International, Cultural Weekly, Beloit Poetry Journal and as a Poem-a-Day for Poets.org. Other literary honors include the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award, and a Black Earth Institute Fellowship. She is a staff writer for Poets Reading the News and the producer/host of “Audio Saucepan” on Santa Fe Public Radio, a program that interweaves music with contemporary poetry. www.laurencamp.com