My Grandmother’s Breasts by Erica Sternin



My grandmother, a private person,
Never let me touch her breasts, until today.
At a loss – Give? Sell? Landfill?
Nestling her china between phyllo layers of newsprint,
Buried in her underwear drawer – the two breasts, hefty!
I palm them in my hands. Why she wasn’t wearing them,
I’ll never know. Perhaps it was too much bother,
Fastening the weighted bra over her bony shoulders.
Or perhaps the ambulance came too soon.
She’d enjoyed her morning coffee, flat, when the men arrived.
Did she love them? Did she secretly give them names?
Or did she get dressed most days, putting them on with no more thought
Than tying her shoes? Did she order this size (rather large),
“And no droop please?” or did they just reorder every few years.
Her one vanity, the forever breasts of a 30 year old?
On the one hand, like the scales of justice, she’d survived,
Until now, to gather me to her bosom after scraped knees and broken hearts.
On the other, now I know, the immodest nipples were permanently upright,
Her hugs forever solid.


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