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Poetry and Medicine
December 2, 2009

Sonnet, status post-mastectomy

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to

JAMA. 2009;302(21):2293. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1699

Your breast's first betrayal: a dimpling of skin
you found one morning, innocent in the steamy shower:
one nipple tucked perversely in
like some startled, dark-drawn flower.
Then the months of hidden woe, my panicked darling,
loath to unseal your mortal grief.
Strange cells harried yours like hungry starlings;
your flesh became your body's thief.
Now your chest has had its reckoning: the lump excised,
the flap of latissimus sewn beneath your skin;
the sorrow welling in your wakening eyes
no surgeon can rescind.
So let us weave a seamless love, with no stitch false or failed.
Beneath the cut of scalpel blade is love's quintessence sealed.

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