alternating grief and thanks
forgetting then
constantly, hourly

in the cold sterile light,
before-pictures are taken to
guide the skilled hand in the
reshaping of me and later to
match the natural
size and pigment
in the aureola, should
I so choose

Others’ faceless
after-pictures are
offered up to
prepare me for
waking up.

Their scars will be my scars.
Baked potatoes
with an angry split
tbrough the centers.

Litany of details;
4-5 hour procedure,
narcotic prescriptions,
stay ahead of the pain,
Silkwood washing ritual
for days prior,
button up shirts,
slip on shoes,
body wipes.

In the Intimates
fitting room,
months later,
I will realize
the cups’ lining is
now irrelevant.
Nothing erect left
to smooth.

Nights spent

All that family experience.
Illusions of control, the
first casualty.

All you have to do
is the next
brave thing, you said

Each day leading up
I set a timer,
sat in our bathroom,
catastrophized and
cried, a practice I thought
barbaric when you
suggested it to me.

I pierced the writhing
beast like a worry doll,
so I could function in
front of our eight year old.

I will always love you
for the dignity and
humor you gifted me
while you
emptied my drains.