2 pieces by Cherie Jones – The Feminist Wire

2 pieces by Cherie Jones

In Memoriam
I mourn my vagina, and miss her. My husband mourns her too. 
As things progressed, we’d used a special Morse when he wanted to make love.
 ‘How is she?’ he’d mutter, ‘Alright?’ ( 
‘Not so good,’ I’d stutter, and he’d hug me, too guilty of health to request a hand
job. Sometimes, when he asked, I’d say, ‘She’s fine,’ even if she wasn’t quite, and he
would lift my skirt in search of her, not remembering to kiss me first.
Nowadays, he doesn’t ask. 
In the bathroom, she’s obliterated by a paunchy belly. I lift, peer under, but the
contortion required to see her is impossible now. She’s inaccessible to me, except with
the collusion of things external to myself. A compact mirror. The magnifier he uses for shaving. The unflappable gaze of a gynecologist unimpressed by her former magic.
“I’m afraid it’s bad news,” Dr. Matthew says, gently.
He never says die.
At home, in the dark, I will my husband to rescue her, to ferret out malignancies that must have slipped in when I wasn’t looking, and give her back to me – but my husband snores his way to distant shores, playing out futures I can no longer imagine.
When I put his hand on her, in invitation, he starts awake, wild-eyed and scared.
“Are you OK?” he worries, “are you in pain?”
I take his fingers and tap-dance them around her, and realization dawns. But he can’t.
Instead he kisses me. And we cry.
    Weary of dispossession, my breasts ran away. They were long gone by the time I woke up the next morning. Since I wasn’t bleeding, and couldn’t say whether or not they had been stolen, the Police were unsympathetic. So was the hospital. My mother asked if I’d looked under my shirt and said she’d come later, to help me find them.             
    Guilt flushed my cheeks when I opened the window to call out to them, like children gone past the perimeter of the playground. I hadn’t felt them go. I hadn’t even loved them enough to give them names. To open the window, yelling ‘Breasts! Breasts!’was absurd.            
    I knew where they’d gone, of course, they’ve always been rebellious. But when I called him, the wife answered and said I should get over it, move on.            
    I wouldn’t normally have followed them, but the alternative was inconceivable,the loss impossible to recover from. I took the route they must have taken, back-roads and alleys, covering my chest with a jacket so nobody would ask me any weird questions. The road to the house was easier without breasts, but I didn’t care – I wanted them back. Inside all was still, swollen with shadows and snoring. When I opened the bedroom door the wife stirred and I saw my breasts nestled near his neck, full and round and sleeping. She covered them, and cowered.            
    I bared my teeth, and clawed.
*Inspired by ‘Poem for the Breasts’ by Sharon Olds, Stag’s Leap (Jonathan Cape) (London) (2012)
Cherie 1Cherie Jones has had her short fiction published in PANK, Cadenza, Eclectica and other journals and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in England. She is a recent fellowship awardee of the Vermont Studio Centre and is currently completing her MA in Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, where she was awarded the Archie Markham Award for short fiction.

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