Touching me tenderly, Diana, the sales rep
could’ve been my lover. She shows me
all the shapes women come in —
turtle shell or small as a pin cushion.
She apologizes that the black sports bra
doesn’t come in my size but pockets
can be custom-sewed into anything —
evening dresses, long and blue
as a winter sky; silver halter tops.
She tells me my ribs are as tiny as a child’s.
She says ladies like to laugh a little
several weeks after surgery
when they arrive for an hour or two fitting.
They leave feeling like their old selves,
a temporary complimentary poof
to slip into their swimsuits.
She gives me a flesh-colored traveling case
to carry my new accommodation in,
tells me it’s okay to get it wet
but not okay to leave it out
where my dog can get to it, how one boy
left alone for the night, tried biting into one,
stealing it out of his mother’s
special, secret drawer.
She agrees symmetry is important.
But in my case, it wasn’t as much an issue.
I was closest to a boy she’d ever seen.
I let her laugh.
I let her do her job. She holds one
up to my cheek — see how
believably plump it feels.
She wants to make sure
I feel confident wearing it,
carefully raising my right arm.
Pretend, she suggests, you’re waving
to a friend. As an adolescent,
I’d bend over as a sales assistant
adjusted the straps, tried to cup her hands
under my still non-existent breasts,
adjusting the straps again. Annoyed,
she’d dart a quick look to my mother,
leave the fitting room then return
with bra cups so packed & stiff
its points could’ve flashed red
at a roadside accident.
I rarely wore tight sweaters.
Now I want to take turns.
I want to place it against Diana’s cheek,
tell her I’m considering leaving
a trail of thorns where my scar remains.
I want to run my other hand
along her kind face. We both know
how in pieces the body falls from heaven.
No pretending sweetness gets it back.
Dzvinia Orlowsky is a founding editor of Four Way Books and the author of three poetry collections including “Except for One Obscene Brushstroke” (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2004). Her poetry and translations have appeared in numerous anthologies including “A Map of Hope: An International Literary Anthology; From Three Worlds: New Writing from the Ukraine”; and “A Hundred Years of Youth: A Bilingual Anthology” of 20th Century Ukrainian Poetry. She currently teaches at the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College.