This is a powerful poem that contains ideas and iconic images that will stick with you. I added some definitions at the end of the post which will make your enjoyment greater if you don’t know exactly what is being said. May we all be free of disease and pain.

Chemotherapy                                                                                 Kathryn Kirkpatrick

Up from the massage table

I catch sight of myself

in the unavoidable mirror.


Afternoon light doesn’t blink.

Basic bald head. Bare pudendum.

Soft pile of belly and hips.


Once mirrors drew me like friends,

broke my gloomy moods

with a smile, eyes brighter


than I’d remembered. Now I’m sacra

to myself, a neutral suggestion,

transpersonal form. Stripped


to Neolithic goddess, I’m all

that’s behind all that will ever be,

prima mater, prima material,


impersonal as rain, kneaded

to dozens of shapes, except

that my chest is scarred


which is what you’d expect

of a goddess in this 21st century.


*pudendum: the sexual organs on the outside of a person’s body.

*sacra in ancient Roman religion are transactions relating to the worship of the gods, especially sacrifice and prayer undertaken on behalf of the individual by herself, on behalf of the family or by the whole body of the people.

*prima mater, prima material is first mother, first material.



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