A Story About the Body Robert Hass

This is a poem and story filled with evocative images.  Compassion and contemplation are evoked as well, which I thought was fitting for a new year.

A Story About the Body                                                  Robert Hass                                                         

The young composer, working that summer at an artist’s colony,

had watched her for a week.  She was Japanese, a painter, almost

sixty, and he thought he was in love with her.  He loved her

work, and her work was like the way she moved her body, used

her hands, looked at him directly when she made amused and

considered answers to his questions.  One night, walking back

from a concert, they came to her door and she turned to him

and said, “I think you would like to have me. I would like that

too, but I must tell you I have had a double mastectomy,”

and when he didn’t understand, “I’ve lost both my breasts.” The

radiance that he had carried around in his belly and chest cavity—

like music—withered, very quickly, and he made himself look at

her when he said, “I’m sorry. I don’t think I could.”  He walked

back to his own cabin through the pines, and in the morning he

found a small blue bowl on the porch outside his door.  It looked

to be full of rose petals, but he found when he picked it up that

the rose petals were on top; the rest of the bowl —she must have

swept them from the corners of her studio —was full of dead

bees.

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