I wrote the poem, “Hang in Their Girls,” after my partial mastectomy at Albert Einstein Hospital when a Cancer Support Group member visited the hospital, and urged me to join which I knew I couldn’t because I lived almost two hours away.
The poem was literally a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” giving me the courage to go on, and offering support to those women, who like myself were battling breast cancer. The poem was my way of dealing with my new predicament, and my new assignment was to help others deal with the trauma which dramatically changed their lives in a positive and humorous way. It was designed to be upbeat, not allowing those afflicted to wallow in self-pity.
My surgeon, Dr. Jablon with a smile on her face said, “It was read to the staff at Albert Einstein Hospital.” To highlight the reaction, she used the expression:”The doctors jumped out of their petri dishes,” which told me the reading reverberated throughout the medical community. Instead of resigning oneself to a victim status, I proposed the patients become the initiators.
It was a cathartic experience for me, and many others who have emerged from a cocoon status to become butterflies pursuing their own dreams.
“Hang in Their Girls,”“The New Do,” “Moxie Pills,” and many others are part of one of the integral chapters of my new book of poetry, Floating Free, soon to be published.
HANG IN THERE GIRLS!
“Hang in there girls,” I tell my breasts fondly.
I’ll take care of your needs
though I try to squeeze in the Y locker for privacy,
I’m finally getting to know you intimately.
In fact the three of us will become an inseparable team.
We can put our troubles on account,
but never lose sight of our dreams.
I hug all your natural resources,
the adornment of my womanhood,
the fountain of nourishment for my three children.
I have new found respect for you,
we need each other for mutual support.
Nipples erect, an erotic display of sensitivity,
most of all you cleave to me quite naturally.
“Whoa girls,” you’re going too fast you know,
we’ve been down the hard lumpy road together,
I’m learning your etches and stretches like a road map.
Remember the day of the lumpectomy
when I tried my new bathing suit on,
inscribed on my skin with magic marker,
horizontal, vertical, and radial lines,
consequences of each according to Susan Love’s Bible.
In an adrenaline surge, I asked the surgeon her technique,
breaching the distance before the procedure.
What a relief Dr. Jablon said “crescent-shaped,”
cosmetically pleasing to you.
Don’t give me any grief now.
Remember what the intern said before my release:
“No weight lifting or bungie jumping for a week!”
It really cramped my style,
I tabled it for awhile all in your best interests.
So don’t think you can hold your own
or even hide from my sight.
Cancer, the wild seed once sown
can spin out of control and reignite
though tempered under the surgeon’s knife
and stilled with radiation to cause a blight.
Don’t worry about the tattoos they won’t be a fright!
Just abide with me girls,
enlightened now, I’ll treat you right
under my watchful eye
while rays of love and light
will stream down to my daughter.
I’m very attached to you,
I hold you lovingly with acclaim.
I am not ashamed whether lemon-sized or cantaloupe,
erect, bouncy, dejected or swinging ponderously low.
I’ll caress you with the mildest soap
while I knead you like dough,
shower and dress you with support.
You’ve infected me with your personality,
with or without your leave, I will inspect every beauty mark,
blemish, indentations, lump, rash or scar.
“Hang loose girls, let me do my thing.”
My immune system may have been on vacation,
but it’s getting right back on track
with stacks of fruits, veggies, and antioxidants.
I don’t expect you to be a shrinking butterfly,
match my stride with your free-flowing exercise.
I’ll bend over so you can flap your wings once in awhile,
I can almost see you smile.
You may wiggle and dance to my beat
as my fingers play a silent concerto
across your nippled expanse and underneath.
Stay at attention as I drop you on the plate
of the mammogram for a diagram of your hidden secrets
once or twice a year to alleviate our worst fears
for you are the fortress of my defense.
(“We squeeze because we care,” they say in bold awareness.)
Let’s get it all together girls and give it a whirl.
Don’t you fret we’ll start again on a par,
for I know I’ve neglected you from afar
by leading the unexamined life;
I want to protect you now it’s only right
for by doing so I protect my own life.
Note: Mary Lou is my classmate from Douglass College. I reviewed her first book of poetry Whisperings Along the Octoraro, in July 2009.