Natalie Easton, Thermography
Without any hesitation but the truth
I bare my breasts for a woman
I met five minutes ago.
I bare them for an intimate act
which has more to do with who
I am on the inside than losing
my virginity to my first real boyfriend
at sixteen and a half under pressure,
a ritual I made him wait
almost two years for before
I presented myself without warning,
a condom in one hand and a course
of synthetic hormones running through my blood.
She is about to see them,
a map of estrogen and consequence,
a latticework of womanhood below
my exterior more complex than lingerie.
I turn this way and that
so she can capture me at every angle,
the story of my mother’s death
still hanging in the air somewhere
between my skin and the camera,
an after-image the physician will keep
stoked as he interprets my heat signatures.
There is no protection this time,
no shield between me and possibility,
me and another life
potentially bursting within me,
growing larger like my fear did then
once my shirt was on
and I wondered what I had just done.
When the results come, they will not
be suspicious, but not optimal,
like the motives of most who have touched me.
The suspect terminology I’ll discuss
with her anxiously will refer, as it turns out,
to a vein in my right breast
which lies especially close to the surface.
I’ll trace it later with my finger,
never having noticed it before,
and remember what she’ll smile apprehensively and say
as though introducing an embarrassing acquaintance;
“This is your body.”
Author’s Comment: After my mother passed away in 2012 from breast cancer, I signed up for my first thermogram. I was told I had an excess of estrogen and decided I wanted to get off hormonal birth control. What ensued was a surprisingly emotional and difficult choice over other birth control options, and that is when it finally struck me how little control women really have over their own bodies. This poem was born soon thereafter from my feelings of violation, fear, and anger.
Bio: Natalie Easton began writing free verse poetry at a very young age. To date, the highlight of her literary career has been receiving a grant from Poets & Writers to read at an art gallery in NY. Her poems have been included in Up the Staircase Quarterly, The Barefoot Review, Ink Sweat & Tears, Penny Ante Feud, and other publications.