Devon Miller-Duggan

Mary Talks about Breasts

All the painters gave me virgin’s tits—
pomegranates shoved under skin
as though that one son’s milk 
had no specific gravity—miracle milk pumped direct
from angels’ song—and suckling him took nothing from my body. 

As if we’d all trip over our own Ground of Being, by which I mean
breasts. As if it mattered what part of me was broken open
or unclothed by the great wind of spermless conception. 
Just look at paintings. I’m untouched in all
those announcements—barely a breeze from our angel’s descent 
or scary plural voice, 
and the spirit shooting light
towards my ear because the old men of the Councils
wrangled the conclusion that the baby had to get in some orifice
un-gross, unfilthy, and besides, 
the right one for The Word. But this is about breasts, 
and painters who believed a virgin’s round-fruit breasts
could hold enough milk to feed God
and never droop. 
As if begetting a god would leave a woman unwracked, 
unracked. But, look, I find my painted self
ginger, blonde, or barely brown for 1500 years, 
on walls, one always out and shiny
as if I were an Amazon. 

2000 years and more my breasts, 
along with those of goddesses and nymphs 
and girls left out for gods to rape, and poor Agatha, 
are all the boobs that don’t offend. 
Mothers suckle babes in toilet stalls 
and dressing rooms (where cameras watch), 
swim clubs with “topless” decks may not permit a nipple in a baby’s mouth.

You know, I know of women who give up their breasts to live
and do not choose to be cut again and harvested (there’s fruit again)
or stretched to make new bumps. They are
often asked by men what will your husband have to play with now? 

Devon Miller-Duggan has published poems in Rattle, Margie, The Antioch Review, Massachusetts Review, and Spillway. She teaches at the University of Delaware. Her books include Pinning the Bird to the Wall (Tres Chicas Books, 2008), Alphabet Year, (Wipf & Stock, 2017), The Slow Salute, Lithic Press Chapbook Competition Winner, 2018).

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