Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SAGA OF THE SMALL-BREASTED WOMAN, by KAREN SWENSON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE SAGA OF THE SMALL-BREASTED WOMAN, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: A prepuberty owl with popcorn
Last Line: Delights in dumplings at the feast.
Subject(s): Beauty; Breasts; Women

A prepuberty owl with popcorn
Saturday afternoons I focused my glasses
on Jane Russell's D cup in the dark

believing in the inevitability of big breasts
my constitutional right to deep cleavage
that nature and nationality would provide.

But at sixteen my coming-of-age
was a pair of custard cups which
my mother packed carefully in cotton

as though they were a set of incubating eggs
and I nested them in my bra
praying to Jane to Marilyn to all the cinema saints.

At twenty I gave up screened goddesses
threw out the wadding
envied every woman who could

plump pillows over the top of her bra
and took to Chinese necklines, slit skirts -
I started legging it through life:

But with forty closing in I retain the trauma
of the mammary fantasies of the American male.
A pioneer in my Conestoga wagon of womanhood

I search for a man who, gratified at some
quenching birthright bosom,
delights in dumplings at the feast.

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