Sunday, 8 August 2010

Something a little more personal - a different kind of art

Some of you may know that I was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago. Next week will be the five year anniversary of my mastectomy. I came across this poem today whilst looking for something else, and it touched me, so I thought I would share it with you. It comes from a publication called 'The Healing Muse'.

Your Breast a Unicorn

B.A. St. Andrews

Uncut and unsewn my breasts nuzzle yellow silk secure as two fauns nestled in Debussy's dream, sun-dappled and safe, finding solace singly and together.

My heart beats staccato under slumbering glands of these breasts and I think about the milk of human kindness and my friend who, unaware, suckled an abomination which curled inside her softness and betrayed her.

Like Cleopatra's asp awakening on compassion's mound, on passion's curve, at consolation's center one aberrant cell metastasized, stirring from slumber to pierce with death that tender sweetness it had dreamt upon.

She hates that phrase "lost a breast" with its insinuation of carelessness.

"It's not as if the three of us went off to market," she says, "my left breast, my right breast and I and one zipped off to ice cream while the other darted to bottled dressings and me just meandering beside vegetables stacked and clotted like a painter's palette with apricot,celeriac, eggplant, muscadine.

It's not as if I realized suddenly one of my breasts had gone missing and charged the courtesy counter breathless on the PA system announcing: I'm waiting on aisle nine for my right breast, my recalcitrant child who has spent her full, fragile, throbbing life with me so please return please and help me push the cart piled high with treats for her: my other darling, my rose-tipped girl, my comfort."

Breasts make money, cut or uncut.

We speak of capital "B" breasts as if they were priceless organisms to be mined or culled or caught in the teeth and so they are.

The Breast is a bronze pendant, a cocoa fruit lopped from its emerald vine.

Breast is an apricot moon pinned to the vineyard of night a pool mirroring the love-sustaining needs of women and men, women and women, mothers and sucklings.

Breast, tumescent and detumescent as any male part, is mystical and defiled, swollen and confined, life-giving and powerful as Africa's Nile.

The Breast reigns: Queen of Solace, Empress of Amazons, Priestess of Pleasure.

We all worship the Breast, ripening or withered: first pillow, first nation, first food.

Your breast is gone, medically incinerated before we could place it among stars.

Lost as the unicorn, that ancient sigil of innocence, your legendary breast is extinct and wandering in fields of praise.

Like the Unicorn's, let your struggles be woven into tapestries and hung in halls of queens and heroes.

Let your face be fashioned of herbs and flowers; let your courage be emblazoned in golden thread so light-yielding, so steadfast that fragile sister ships may, by your radiance, glide unperturbed past shoals and reefs of fear and anguish which lay siege on every heart.

By your burning may ships heavy laden, carved with busts of mermaids and deities who tame wild seas, deliver safely their cargo of women brave and beautiful as you.

To celebrate the five-year anniversary of my cancer surgery, I am considering covering the horrible mastectomy scar with something beautiful.

I, who have always eschewed tattooos, am thinking of having a very personal piece of art of my own placed on my breast, so that when I look in the mirror, I will no longer see puckers and lines, but beautiful designs....


  1. Good on you - you are so brave. Go for the art :-)

  2. Wow, that is an amazing piece of writing. My Aunt is a survivor I will have to show her this!!
    Thanks for sharing, so wonderful of you.

  3. Your post touched me & I just had to let you know... I think you're brave & wonderful. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Wishing you oodles of good health!

  4. I just discovered your blog and so glad I did! The poem is beautiful in its painterly sadness...and I second Lynette - go for the art!

  5. Completely off this topic, but thought you would like to know I have long admired your fabric paper and beryl taylor inspired work, and have linked to you today in my latest blog post about fabric paper.

  6. I visited your Blog today to see if you had posted DT artwork for The Altered Element. Instead I read a poem with such depth of emotion to it, tears are welling up. A touching post and I wish for you incredibly good health. You are obviously a brave woman and a fighter. Lynne Moncrieff.




Please note that I assert myself as the creator of all art on this site (unless I credit another artist) and retain copyright of all artwork posted on this site