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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 became Poet Laureate of Wisconsin in November, 2008.  Her award-winning work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, and she is also the author of six individual collections of poems. Marilyn taught for many years at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and was appointed in 2004 to a two-year term as Poet Laureate of Milwaukee. She continues to lead workshops locally, statewide, and as a visiting poet at universities and libraries in Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Colorado, Oregon, and elsewhere.  She is a Contributing Editor for THE WRITER magazine, where her columns on craft appear bi-monthly. More information and more poems can be found on her website,   


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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