by Marianne Chan


Lately, I’ve been compulsively checking 

the size of my breasts. In my breasts, I believe 

I’ll find some message, some sign from the beyond, 

of motherhood. In the business of reproduction, 

so much depends on the finding. The sperm 

must find my egg, the egg must find my uterus. 

I don’t know how to visualize these things 

happening. Internal organs: What are they doing? 

I think of them the same way I think of outer space: 

as something I will never see or touch, so only 

exists in theory. This is, perhaps, a lesson 

in object permanence. It’s hard to fathom 

how much is happening inside me, unseen. 

When I was a child, I found a wedding picture 

of my mom and dad. Not understanding people 

existed before I was born I asked my mom, 

But where was I? Without hesitation Mom pointed 

at my father’s crotch tapping her red pointy 

fingernail on the picture frame glass. I gasped, 

surprised. She responded by laughing and laughing 

like a villain in the movies, her mouth opening 

wider and wider until I could see her palatine uvula 

in her throat dangling like a church bell, ready 

to be rung. How frightening. I thought of myself 

in my father’s testicles, small and lonely 

in that genital darkness. How many other selves 

were in there too? These were my early thoughts 

on reproduction. Now, I wonder why my mother 

gave my father all the credit; she knew something 

I didn’t know: what happens to a woman’s body 

when it is split in two, how it feels to double, 

multiply. Now I’m reading the tea leaves of my tits, 

*asking them, Is there someone inside my uterus stewing 

in my body’s thick broth? I read somewhere that breasts 

only reach their full potential when they’re able 

to feed someone. Until then, they are merely 

decorative, two floral centerpieces on an olivewood 

table. The navel is also ornamental, a retired bodily 

feature, like the rotary telephone niche in our kitchen 

wall. It’s not that I wish to compare my body 

to objects. I just think: how strange, I spent most 

of my youth avoiding being objectified, only to learn 

my body achieves actualization when I’m human 

food for my young, an object, milk produced 

from my own fat supply, ready for consumption, 

my tits, their first ever cup. Some days I think Take it. 

Take it all. Other days I’m ambivalent about the taking. 

If I have a child, will this body never return, never 

be unbabied? My laughing mother never seemed 

scarred by motherhood, but I couldn’t know her before 

I was born, I couldn’t see the before and after. Take it all. 

All of it, she said, offering me the food in her kitchen, 

and then, the kitchen itself, the sink, the counters, 

the white teacups with the blue flowers. Thinking 

of my mother now, I imagine the baby floating inside me. 

Oh, how I desire more of my mother, more of me. 

At a party, I enter someone’s bedroom to check 

my breasts again for signs of fertilization, implantation, 

in front of the mirror. But my breasts simply hang there, 

unspeaking, two cyclops twins with slight differences 

in size, staring back, finding only my face 

desperate for something to repeat itself. 

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