Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Cut and Save

by Mary O’Connor

But after all, I didn’t mind so much about my breast
—at my age breasts were neither here nor there,
those shivery sweet blancmanges of  my youth gone
the way of Apple Blossom talc and staying up till five.
Yes, it was a mutilation but only like a gangrened
toe cut off to save a foot, a trapped arm severed
to free a body from the rocks, nothing to do with
my womanhood, which would survive. I was sure
a heart for people, laughter, ample comprehension, nerve
were more to the point. The old me had all her parts,
the current me—developed over decades, changing cells
at least eight times, already missing a bit of eyebrow,
several teeth and one unused organ—this new me was fuller,
more complete! Why should that contrapuntal movement
not continue?
	So I said at the edge of the crater, looking down
on the dredged-out hole and tossing in a forlorn wreath.


—Honorable Mention, the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize 2017; first published in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2017-18 (Garden Oak Press, February 2018) and appears here with permissions from the publisher and the poet


SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Mary O’Connor’s

poems and short stories have appeared in Columbia Journal, Jacaranda Review, Metre, National Catholic Reporter, New Irish Writing, The Briar Cliff Review, and other journals. A few of her poems have been broadcast on NPR. She has won awards from the Academy of American Poets and a MacDowell Colony residency. She gives poetry retreats.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury