Cindy Milwe

Even when they first arrived,
my breasts hung low 
like crook-neck squash: 
oblong, too thin, two sallow
tasteless vegetables. 

My mother showed me paintings 
by Picasso to console me. 
My sister called me “arrowhead,”
poked at them from underneath 
to watch them fall. 

Women spoke of sagging, 
but I was a girl, too young 
to succumb to such hanging.
Even when Dickie Tristico
snapped my bra in sixth grade, 

I was scared he would know 
my strange shape, how different
I was from the magazines
my father hid under his bed.
I’d sneak in his room

to open the centerfolds, 
stare at what I knew 
would never be mine—
breasts like stone fruit: 
grand peaches, choice plums.

Cindy Milwe has been published in many journals and magazines, including 5 AM, Exit 7, Alaska Quarterly Review, Poetry East, Poet Lore, The William and Mary Review, Flyway, Talking River Review, and The Georgetown Review, among others. She also has poems in two anthologies: Another City: Writing from Los Angeles (City Lights, 2001) and Changing Harm to Harmony: The Bullies and Bystanders Project (Marin Poetry Center Press, 2015). Two years ago, her poem “Hunger” was selected as first prize winner for the Myra Shapiro Poetry Contest, sponsored by The International Women’s Writing Guild. That same year, she was awarded first prize for the poem, “Legacy,” by the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, and received the Parent/Writer Fellowship. Last year, her poem, “Memorial,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her first book of poems, Salvage, has just been published by Finishing Line Press. Cindy got my BA from NYU, a Masters in English Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an MFA in poetry from Bennington College. She lives with her husband and three children in Venice, CA.

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