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LINGERIE (poem) - Jay Bernard - United Kingdom - Poetry International
 
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Lingerie
Lingerie was not on the shopping list.
    Down the aisle
the bras were prawn cracker white, the lace cerulean
                                                           the frills soft as young pig
and each mushroom cup hung with
      aloof authority.
But our basket was filled with
                      eggs and seven day bread.
It is why, at twelve, I had sagging breasts.

There was no silk
     rampart, no delicate clip to
keep them in; polyester wakens the rage of
    the most patient saint and it chafes
the petalled skin of tiny
                new gods
       who command
an imperious trot punishing
      fun with excruciating pain.

I eyed them in the mirror.
    There seemed to be no solution –
they grew and grew until I had to accept them.
But what child, I thought, would want them?
           If I could not reveal them now
from the silk case of a good bra
how would I ever learn?
     and how many lovers would
be crushed in that sickening
     fold where each breast hung
soft and fat and waxen?

                   Mother, my galaxy might once have been
your breasts. I may have put a rounded mouth
on either tether, and spent the tiny,
silent night sucking; I may
have drained you every evening of your whiteness,
so that you staggered into banisters,
when putting me to bed –

     I’m sorry for my babyhood,
for the wet fisted selfishness, for that
day, by the knickers, when something stirred
between us, something like wind
against pendulous bells –
    Vast and ineffable changes
that present themselves as soft, budding
aureoles, ones I sucked to be closer to you,
and mine, which I cage in tight,
black bras like prisons
sheared from panther –

Editor's Note: Published with kind permission of the author.