Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Poem by Ally Malinenko


I did a count.
From diagnosis
to now 4 months later
I figure about 50 strangers
have seen my tits
since this whole thing started.

This number could top out at 75 before year's end.

In the beginning I was shy
like all girls are in the beginning
slowly taking off my shirt
folding it neatly on the chair.
Unhooking my bra
tucking it under my shirt
Modest.  Chaste.

I would suck in my stomach as
they laid me back on the table.
A virgin for sure.
Be gentle, I would think.
Be kind.

But now, I've changed.
I whip that thing off,
toss it on the floor with my bra
like it was my own bedroom.
I usually have my tits out before
the doctor has even warmed his hands,
hop up on the table.  Flash him a smile.

Or when that one time
during radiation when I was afraid
there was something wrong
I had the right tit out of that gown
before he even had the office door shut.

I'm a total slut now.

I do it so much it's a wonder I don't do it all the time.
On the subway, reading poetry
at the grocery store
topless checking the cantaloupes against my own.

It's actually nice.
I get why guys like it being shirtless.
I've started walking around the house this way
past the open windows.
My tits happy and free
enjoying the cool air that floats in
the chatter of teenagers on the street.

I don't even wonder anymore if they can see me.
I don't even care.

Being topless, whenever,
this is something that women
have categorically missed out on.

We should fix this.
Men should not get all the topless time.

I think about the boys of my youth
when we used to go to the lake
how they would all raise their arms
in a salute to the sun and in sync
lift their shirt
drop it to the floor
they're slender bodies,
the way their shorts hung on them
the muscles of their shoulders flexing
like they were remembering
something primal
something free
something sexual
that had been buried far too long inside.

Ally Malinenko has been writing poems and stories for awhile now.  Occasionally she gets things published.  She is the author of The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press), the children's novel, Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb (Antenna Books), and This is Sarah, forthcoming from Bookfish Books.

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