Cut Away

Katrina Kaye

My aunt’s breasts did not murder her.
But they fell,                     one by one,
overripe fruit.
I remember she said
once they were gone,
she didn’t feel much like a woman

After the first surgery
she showed us her stitched skin.
The higher part bronzed from summer sun,
roughly stapled to once upper abdominal white.

She had no nipples.
It was a graceless realization.
She would eventually have picturesque replicas tattooed on.
Eventually implants would replace the smooth boy chest.
Desperate to become woman again.

It was the curve of my mother’s hips
that lead to her betrayal.
A wanton child nestled in uterus waiting
impatiently to spread,
to creep into belly,
to stretch into tubes and ovary,
submerge in blood.

Sound waves revealed a tumor
embedded in endometrial lining.
I recall the subtle understanding:
sonograms are not just for spying
unborn children.

The surgeons left a scar from belly button downward
where womb was pulled from body.
Similar to a caesarian incision,
only deeper.

These parts,
breast, uterus,
methodically removed,
the woman cut from our beings.
Never knowing how much
they would be missed
until they were gone.

What offense deemed us unworthy
of these precious female features?
The landscape, gifted without asking,
now taken despite pleas.
This anatomy that defined us women,
what is left when it is gone?

Was it the deep throaty
voice of my aunt that frightened
the feminine away?

Were my mother’s hands
too masculine to hold a
womb any longer?

Will I pay for the sins
of a barren belly and one
too many late nights
matching pints with the boys by having
the female raped from my body
with cold scalpel and surgical staples?

The women of my family
are blessed with beautiful breasts,
curved hips, and a predisposition of cancer.

We women of shared blood,
of mirrored images and reflective habits,
who can’t quite quit cigarettes,
who have a weakness for men who drink too much,
who are so giving of our time,
our lives, our flesh,
we still miss these parts that are cut away.

“Cut Away” was previously published in Treehouse Arts in January, 2019.

Explore Treehouse Arts here.