by Kathryn Kirkpatrick
Bare-chested isn’t bare-breasted,
whatever the police might say.
After I lost both of mine
to the cancer, I started working
topless in the yard. Bilateral
mastectomy the doctors called it,
but those words smell like alcohol.
Might as well have been doves
roosting on my chest. Now they’ve flown,
and I take mourning into the open air
where the weeping cherry is losing
another limb to the tent worms.
It’s okay—the tree will survive, gnarled
beauty more a comfort to me now
than any straining perfection.
When I read about pesticides,
how they madden a living cell,
I stopped spraying the roses.
I turn compost in the wire bin,
and my body feels clean, the sun
like a lover’s hands, the scars
on my chest healed into another
landscape. Out here, in just my capris,
I feel a peace I can’t find indoors.
So when the police arrive again, I smile and offer tea.
Indecent exposure they claim,
but those words taste like metal.
There aren’t laws for bodies like mine.