I never expected to feel the cool drink running
so close to my skin, just under my newly sutured
chest, my heart side now genderless and tender—
to love my flat chest, so much like the one I had at 13,
skateboarding in t-shirts without a bra. Never expected
to notice my right nipple, how it still becomes hard—
a lonely pleasure like that of an only child.
Never expected to forsake the idea
of a matched set, how someone could rest their head
on my left chest, tuck in like a baby to its father,
hear the oscillation of my heartbeat, just beneath
the surface, resonant fountain, chamber music.
This poem was first published in the Bellevue Literary Review Issue #40.
Bonnie S. Kaplan is a poet and educator who has worked with the justice-involved for over 25 years. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, most recently in Sinister Wisdom, Room, and The Bellevue Literary Review, where her poem, “Mastectomy, Simple,” was a finalist for the 2021 Marica and Jan Vilcek Poetry Prize. See more at bonnieskaplan.com