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Another Thing I Ought to Be Doing
Marilyn L. Taylor


 Many women fail to check their own breasts for suspicious lumps on a regular monthly basis.
— The American Cancer Society

So now I should be taking special care
of them, is that it? Every month go pat
pat pat—when what they’ve done for me is flat
out zero? Nothing? Case in point: where
were they when I was fourteen, fifteen,
and topographically a putting green?

Not to mention nights when I disgraced
my gender, stuffing tissue paper down
my polo shirt or confirmation gown—
my philosophy on staying chaste
having less to do with things profound
than fear of giving off a crunchy sound.

And now you’re saying, Minister to them!
these very breasts that caused me great gymnasiums
of misery and high humiliation—
Institute a monthly regimen!
meaning I’m to walk my fingers gingerly
around these two molehills in front of me.

Sorry, but my hands have dropped straight down
like baby birds. They will not rise
to the occasion, won’t get organized,
refuse to land on enemy terrain.
They simply twitch and fidget in my lap
as if they sense a booby trap—

As if they hear the moron in my head
insisting that I’ll never be caught dead.

This poem first appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, May 1998).
Used here with the author's permission.


Marilyn L. Taylor, former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin and the city of Milwaukee, is the author of three full-length collections of poetry (most recently, Outside the Frame: New and Selected Poems) and five poetry chapbooks. Her essays and poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals  and she has been awarded First Place in several national, international, and regional poetry competitions.  Marilyn is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and the Wisconsin Writers Association, and currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Third Wednesday  and Verse-Virtual poetry journals. Learn more about Marilyn who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, at  



Post New Comment:
Wildly funny, but oh so well executed. Thanks again for another brilliant poem Mary
Posted 10/05/2010 04:45 PM
I could never imagine a funny poem about this subject, but you knocked it out of the comical park! Bravo!
Posted 10/01/2010 03:22 PM
Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! What a model you are for all of us. Hey, guys, let's have some fun too.
Posted 10/01/2010 02:27 PM

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