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A Mural Around My Heart FREE TO VIEW

Patricia Alice Albrecht, BFA
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Editor’s Note: The author writes: “I made a decision after my mastectomy not to take chemotherapy and radiation. Poetic expression helped to mend my emotional cavities.” The poet is a music publishing administrator and singer-songwriter in Nashville.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).

© 2010 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2010;138(2):453. doi:10.1378/chest.09-2184
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I want to paint
a mural around my heart.
To the right of it
stretches long the ragged scar
of dried blood on my horizon
jagged as a shoreline.
I want to paint the setting sun
above this line and a pool of water
beneath the slice
that separates what is
from what used to be.
I want to paint a bouquet
of purple pansies over my sternum
where the incision first begins
and burns
like old coals that catch a cold wind
and spark back, flaring.
But what I see is a snake
slithering across my chest
to hide its head under my arm
   to find protection
   to find a way back in
   to be buried soft
   in some forgotten comfort.
Tears are watercolor wishes
that I could erase the canvass
and see instead
a breast again – whole and known.
As I shudder
the snake smiles
a painful smile…
I’d forgotten what a good artist can do.
I’d forgotten I’d painted her with a slim and beautiful mouth.
We will grow close this snake and I.
She will whisper secrets and I will love her.




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