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  • Ode to My Breasts
  • Ellen Bass (bio)

O breasts, you are loyal.You are almost as bright as the nightNeal Rosen first beheld you—in the backseat of his father’s Chevy—gift-wrapped in black lace. You are almostas generous as when I nursed my baby, spraying delicate needlesof bluish milk into her fierce mouth. Of courseyou’ve softened, you’ve sagged, but stillyour nipples are doorbells waking the house.They are wicks, eager to be lit. Breasts,you buzz like hives. Insistentas geese I can hardly keep cooped in my blouse.You are pirate chests heavy with gold, sacks of sugar,domes of cathedrals, cumulus clouds.You are ballerinas pirouetting in pink tutus.Pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land.You are two rings of a three-ring circus.Vats full of grapes, artesian wells, swells in the sea.Swirling through time, you are galaxies. You are love letterssealed with red wax. Two white foxes playing in the snow.You are arias thrilling the farthest rows of the crumblingopera house. O my Roman candles, fountains of fireworks,you are flares set off from a raft lost at sea. [End Page 253]

Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass’s most recent book, Like a Beggar, was published in April 2014 by Copper Canyon Press. She was coeditor, along with Florence Howe, of the groundbreaking anthology No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women. Her poems have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, including the New Yorker and the Atlantic, and she is a winner of a Lambda Literary Award, among other honors. She teaches in the low residency MFA program at Pacific University.



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